EducationFederalLocal NewsCarroll ISD Investigated by Department of Education for Alleged Civil Rights Violations

The U.S. Department of Education has opened three investigations into Carroll ISD for possible civil rights violations. The district has been mired in a battle over a diversity council and cultural competence action plan for over a year.
November 17, 2021
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The U.S. Department of Education has opened an investigation into the Carroll Independent School District (ISD) in northeast Tarrant County. 

According to a report by WFAA, the Office of Civils Rights (OCR) confirmed three separate investigations “related to discrimination based on race, color, national origin, or sex.”

Carroll ISD has come under public scrutiny since 2018 after a video of teen students chanting racial slurs sparked outrage among many students and parents. Those events precipitated a controversial Cultural Competence Action Plan (CCAP), which has been halted due to litigation. 

Opponents of the CCAP say the student code of conduct, if enforced, addresses the racial slur issues and that the CCAP punishes students for undefined microaggressions and contains many concepts closely associated with critical race theory. Families opposing the CCAP have been successful in electing three new school board members in recent months.

In October, a Carroll ISD administrator, Gina Peddy, apparently was secretly recorded advising teachers during a meeting that they must present both sides of events like the Holocaust, a horrific genocide of over 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany during World War II.

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In response, Superintendent Lane Ledbetter wrote, “During the conversations with teachers during last week’s meeting, the comments made were in no way to convey that the Holocaust was anything less than a terrible event in history. Additionally, we recognize there are not two sides of the Holocaust.”

He continued by expressing that the school district is determining how to implement House Bill (HB) 3979, passed during this year’s legislative session. One section of the bill requires that “a teacher who chooses to discuss a [controversial] topic described by Subdivision (1) shall, to the best of the teacher’s ability, strive to explore the topic from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.”

“As a district we will work to add clarity to our expectations for teachers and once again apologize for any hurt or confusion this has caused,” Ledbetter added.

In response to the Holocaust incident, Texas state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake) wrote, “The Holocaust was a terrible event in human history based on ignorant hatred. It is not a currently controversial or even debatable subject — its occurrence is a fact. HB 3979 does not require an ‘opposing view’ and any idea that it would, is incorrect.”

NBC News reporter, Mike Hixenbaugh, has created a podcast dedicated to reportedly racist incidents in Southlake, the town where Carroll ISD is located.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21) tweeted in response to the investigation, “Now we have DOJ targeting parents in a prominent school district in Texas challenging #CRT & @NBC potentially colluding? After a Whistleblower made clear the FBI is targeting parents. We know this to be true, but the AG said it was not. #DefendParents

The Education Department’s OCR enforces Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, among other laws. 

The investigative process may include reviewing relevant documents, conducting interviews, and site visits. At the completion of the process, the OCR will issue a letter of findings about whether the evidence shows the district’s compliance or noncompliance with the relevant laws.

If the OCR finds noncompliance, it will attempt to reach a voluntary resolution. If no voluntary resolution is reached, “OCR may initiate proceedings to suspend, terminate, or refuse to grant or continue Federal financial assistance to the recipient, or may refer the case to the Department of Justice.”

In a statement regarding the investigation, Carroll ISD said, “Our district is fully cooperating with this process and diligently pulling all documents requested. These OCRs are student situations; therefore, due to the Federal Act to Education Privacy Act (FERPA), we are unable to provide or share any more specifics at this time. Our focus will always be what is best for our students as we prepare them for their next steps in their educational journey.”

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.