DSD-DOJ Frequently Asked Questions
1. How long does the Settlement Agreement with the DOJ last?
The Settlement Agreement is not open-ended; The District and DOJ anticipate that the District will achieve compliance by July 2025. (See Paragraph 56 of the Settlement Agreement.)
2. Does the DOJ now approve of all hires in the District?
The DOJ does not approve all hires. Individuals hired to fill a new department created as part of the Settlement Agreement (the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO)), were reviewed by the DOJ. No other hires require DOJ approval.
3. Are teacher and staff mandatory reporters of harassment and discrimination of protected classes?
Yes, teachers and staff are mandatory reporters of racial harassment, just as they are mandatory reporters of sexual harassment (Title IX), sexual abuse (state law), and bullying of all types (District Policy 5S-100, Section 2.6.4, which has been in place for many years). The District’s new Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy (Policy 11IR-100) requires teachers and staff to report complaints of racial harassment to the OEO in order for the District to follow its procedures to investigate the allegation.
4. Does the Settlement Agreement mandate Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)?
No. There is nothing about SEL that is tied into the DOJ investigation, its Findings, or the Settlement Agreement.
5. How was the Safeguarding company selected as the consultant?
Safeguarding was hired as third-party Consultants to assist the District in its obligations under the Settlement Agreement. Other Settlement Agreements entered into between school districts across the country and the DOJ have imposed similar requirements. Safeguarding submitted an RFP, along with two other consulting entities. Safeguarding was selected based on cost and the fact that they are a local company. This is all part of the public bidding documentation.
6. What (if any) is the relationship between the DOJ and Safeguarding Company?
There is no relationship between DOJ and the Safeguarding Company. Safeguarding is the District’s Consultant and advises the District on its practices to ensure they are consistent with the Agreement and federal law.
7. Has the District purchased any software from Safeguarding or any other vendor?
No. The District has not purchased any software from Safeguarding, its principal owner Mr. Linton, or any organization affiliated with Mr. Linton. Paragraph 18 of the Agreement requires the District to develop a central electronic reporting/complaint management system to receive, track, and manage all complaints or reports of racial harassment and other racial discrimination. The District, which has an IT Department of almost 30 staff, worked throughout last year to develop a system that works very much like the SafeUT App, where students or parents can report a concern and it is investigated. This system is housed within the District’s student information system (Encore) and all complaints of harassment or discrimination are routed through this system to the District’s new Office of Equal Opportunity, which will then investigate the complaint. While Safeguarding and the DOJ have access to the data to monitor the progress of the District in complying with the Agreement, no other outside entity has access to this information.
8. Was the school board appraised of the Settlement Agreement?
Yes. The school board was fully apprised of the Settlement Agreement at its October 19, 2021 meeting prior to the signing of the Agreement. The District’s outside counsel presented a summary of the Agreement to the board for the board’s final approval. The board president was involved in many of the discussions with the DOJ as the Agreement was being negotiated and the day after the final version of the Agreement had been drafted, details of the Agreement were shared with the full board.
9. Why were parents not informed about the Settlement Agreement or allowed to provide input?
The District issued a press release on October 21, 2021, about the Agreement and the DOJ issued its own press release about the Agreement on that same day. On October 29, 2021, the Superintendent sent a letter home to parents of all families notifying them of the Agreement. On November 3, 2021, the public had an opportunity to address the board at a public board meeting about the Settlement Agreement, and many parents did so, the majority of whom were supportive of the provisions in the Agreement. The Agreement has been posted on the District’s website since October 2021, and all administrators received a summary synopsis of the Agreement in administrator training in November. There was nothing private or secret about the Settlement Agreement, and there continues to be nothing private or secret about it.
The DOJ interviewed parents, students, and community members during its investigation and investigated specific complaints from parents. The DOJ considered this information as a part of its determination that parent complaints were meritorious and when proposing the remedies in the Settlement Agreement. However, because settlement negotiations are confidential, the DOJ does not obtain public comments before proposing or entering into settlements. In the Settlement Agreement Summary, DOJ provides contact information so that parents and community members can continue to share their experiences.
10. Is the District required to gain parental approval to submit requested data to the DOJ?
Federal law (FERPA) does not require parental consent before disclosing personally identifiable student information to the Attorney General of the United States (ie, the DOJ). See 34 C.F.R. 99.31(a)(3)(ii).
11. Is this the first time that the DOJ has been involved in a school district in allegation of racial discrimination or harassment?
The DOJ has a long history of addressing racial harassment and discrimination in school districts across the country. For examples of these cases and more information about this work, visit: https://www.justice.gov/crt/educational-opportunities-cases.
12. What information was provided during the mandatory teacher training in August 2022?
The teacher training held the week before school started was aimed at helping teachers and staff understand civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination and harassment in schools, to recognize it when they see it, and to report it to the proper district department so it can promptly be addressed. Much of the DOJ investigation between 2019 and 2021 involved reports that harassment was occurring, and staff didn't stop it because they were not trained and didn't know what to do. This training was intended to remedy that.
13. Does the DOJ investigate students or adults who have been accused of harassment or discrimination?
No. The DOJ isn’t investigating students at all. The District conducts all investigations. Also, the DOJ doesn't have any authority to discipline individual students, even if it was conducting investigations into allegations of harassment. DOJ has authority under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act to address complaints of discrimination by educational institutions--not to discipline specific students for reports of harassment. Any fault or wrongdoing lies entirely with the school district. The school district is responsible for procedures to prevent students from engaging in harassment, and where students do engage in harassment and the school district does nothing, then the school district is responsible, not students.
14. Will the fact that the District shared a student’s information with DOJ have any impact on the student’s future?
No. The DOJ collects this information to assess the District’s efforts to comply with the Settlement Agreement and federal law and ensure the District providing a safe school environment for all students, regardless of race. The DOJ’s focus is, therefore, on the District’s response to incidents of racial harassment, not on individual students.
15. Does the DOJ plan to initiate their own training of the students using their own curriculum?
No. There is no part of the Settlement Agreement that addresses classroom curriculum, and the DOJ does not have authority to dictate curriculum.
The Settlement Agreement does require the District will work with the Consultant to provide age-appropriate bullying and harassment intervention programming to all District students that covers the type of conduct prohibited by District policy and the processes for notifying school staff of incidents of harassment. But State law already requires this very thing (see USBE Rules R277-613), so it's not anything new that the DOJ is requiring. That is the only part of the Settlement Agreement that involves teaching or training students, and it is the District who will provide this training, consistent with what is already required under R277-613.
16. What student information will be submitted to the DOJ?
Appendix A and Appendix B of the Settlement Agreement include what is to be submitted to the DOJ during the monitoring period. Appendix A requires the District to submit a report in October that includes, "A master list of all students including each student’s name, student ID, race/ethnicity, grade, and school." Appendix B requires the District to submit a report in July that includes, "All complaints of racial harassment or other racial discrimination in the central reporting system along with all supporting documentation for the entire school year, including the District’s response."
Appendix B also requires submission of, "Disaggregated discipline data by name, student ID, race/ethnicity, grade, school, incident type, description of incident, date of incident, disciplinary outcome, the outcome’s length of time, referring staff, and disciplining staff." No pictures, no addresses, and no social security numbers will be submitted.
The data the District shares with DOJ (e.g., as described in Appendix A and B) is permissible under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and pursuant to the Settlement Agreement. As a government agency, DOJ must comply with federal privacy laws and cannot re-share it or re-distribute the data. Additional information about student privacy can be found at https://studentprivacy.ed.gov.
School districts are frequently asked to share student data with a state or federal enforcement agency (like USBE, or OCR) during an audit or to ensure compliance with state or federal law.
17. Will parents have access to the data submitted to the DOJ?
Any of this data that applies to a student is always available to parents under FERPA. If a child has a disciplinary incident, parents can see those records. Parents will not have access to any information about other students.
18. Who at the DOJ is receiving the student data identified in Question 16?
The DOJ division that oversees compliance in schools with civil rights laws is the Educational Opportunities Section, within the Civil Rights Division. The only individuals with access to the student data submitted as part of the Settlement Agreement are those individuals within the Civil Rights Division assigned to the district’s case, their supervisors, and their retained consultants who agree to adhere to DOJ’s confidentiality obligations. The District of Utah’s U.S. Attorney’s Office also signed the Settlement Agreement and may review student data along with the Civil Rights Division.
19. How is data being stored and protected?
All information requested by the DOJ is uploaded to a secure databased, the Justice Enterprise Filing System or JEFS. The data is only shared with those within the Civil Rights Division who are working on the matter. For information on how the DOJ protects the data, please see Privacy Impact Assessment for the JEFS system, found here: https://www.justice.gov/jefs_pia/download
20. The report said that they want to make our schools “free” from any harassment. Is that really possible?
Federal law requires that the District respond appropriately to known harassment. It IS the District’s goal to have a school environment free from discrimination and harassment. It is not uncommon at all for statements of non-discrimination posted by schools and/or employers to commit to a harassment-free environment, or language that "ensures" students are not subject to harassment. The specific requirements spelled out in the Settlement Agreement need to be met and the District needs to show that it is addressing and responding to known incidents of harassment. That is what the law requires and the District is committed to providing safe schools for all students.
21. How do we see a report of the DOJs initial investigation's findings?
The DOJ's findings can be found at: Davis School District - Notice of Findings of Race Discrimination in the Davis School District (justice.gov)
22. Why is the District only concerned about “protected” groups?
"Protected classes" is a term used to describe the various groups identified in federal civil rights laws, both in the employment context as well as the education context. Bullying on ANY basis should be prohibited and addressed. However, the reason the DOJ is involved is because there were verified reports of racial harassment--or bullying kids because of a students’ race. When a student picks on another student on the basis of that student's race, or color, or national origin, or sex, etc., it is a violation of federal law in addition to a violation of the district's bullying policy.
It is important to note that white students, as well as student of color, can be subject to racial harassment, and the same thorough investigation that will be conducted for allegations of racial harassment against students of color will be conducted for allegations of racial harassment against white students.