Justice Department Reaches Agreement with Tennessee School District

The Justice Department has resolved racial harassment complaints in Hawkins County Schools with a settlement agreement.

The Justice Department announced a settlement agreement with Hawkins County Schools in Tennessee to address reports of racial discrimination targeting Black students. The investigation revealed several incidents of peer harassment, including a mock “slave auction,” the use of racial slurs, and a “monkey of the month” campaign. Despite the district’s acknowledgment of the harassment, their response was deemed insufficient to protect the constitutional rights of Black students.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke emphasized that no student should endure such racial harassment, which undermines safety and the educational environment, and violates equal protection under the Constitution. U.S. Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III praised the Hawkins County Board of Education for cooperating with the investigation and working towards a resolution that enhances protections for students.

The investigation, initiated in March 2023 under Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, led to an agreement requiring Hawkins County Schools to implement significant reforms. These include hiring an Anti-Harassment Coordinator, retaining a consultant, creating an electronic reporting portal, updating harassment and discipline policies, training staff, informing students and parents on reporting harassment, and conducting focus groups, surveys, and educational events to prevent race discrimination. The district will also analyze discipline data to ensure non-discriminatory enforcement of policies.

Further information about the Civil Rights Division and the Educational Opportunities Section can be found on the Justice Department’s website at www.justice.gov/crt. Possible civil rights violations can be reported at www.civilrights.justice.gov/.

Source: Read Original Release

Lookout Mountain Resident Indicted for Child Exploitation

James C. Thompson, a 71-year-old resident of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, has been indicted on charges of transporting minors for sexual activity, with a trial set for August 12, 2024. The FBI is seeking additional potential victims involved in youth activities, and the case is part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood initiative.