Cardona hints it’s unlikely schools under investigation will lose federal funds

posted in: Politics | 0

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Friday signaled that while the department is probing incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia, it is unlikely the seven schools under investigation will lose their federal funding.

“Look, if an institution refuses to follow the law to protect students, we would withhold dollars,” Cardona said in an interview on “CNN This Morning.” “That said … I haven’t spoken to a college leader that doesn’t want to do everything they can. Right now what we’re doing is giving them resources.”

Cardona’s remarks follow his agency’s Thursday announcement of seven schools under investigation by the department as of Nov. 16. Those schools include: Lafayette College, Cornell University, Columbia University, Wellesley College, University of Pennsylvania, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and Kansas’ Maize Unified School District. Five of the complaints allege antisemitic harassment and two allege anti-Muslim harassment.

No details were released about the specific incidents on campuses that the department is investigating. But some of the probes were prompted by complaints from Jewish advocacy groups, including the Brandeis Center.

All schools that receive federal funds must comply with Title VI, a federal law that bars discrimination based on shared ancestry, ethnic characteristics or national origin. Schools who violate the law could be at risk of losing their federal funding if they do not comply. Along with the Thursday night announcement, agency officials also cautioned that just because a school is under investigation does not mean they have broken the law.

Still, Cardona on Friday was stern about schools’ responsibilities to protect students from discrimination. He also said he anticipates more investigations to be launched into incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia in schools.

“It’s our responsibility to protect them and we’re doing everything in our power to enforce that,” Cardona said. “And if we see that there are places that are not doing it, we’re gonna open up an investigation. We’re gonna provide support, but we’re gonna open up an investigation to make sure that we’re doing our job as educators.”

The secretary urged colleges to be “open and honest” with students and their families about what is happening on their campuses, and they should allow students to express themselves freely on campus. He also said the department is willing to work with the schools on compliance and have a number of resources available to them.

“When students can’t feel safe walking from their dorm, to their classroom, because they’re afraid that they’re gonna get harmed, that’s unacceptable,” Cardona said. “We must protect students at all costs.”

The Education Department on Thursday said it would continue updating its list of investigations weekly on the website for its Office for Civil Rights.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.