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FIRST ON FOX – Utah parents in the Davis School District are sounding the alarm after discovering the Department of Justice was collecting racial and ethnic data on their children.
The DOJ’s investigation into the district began in July 2019 by the Civil Rights Division, which probed into complaints of racial discrimination. The settlement, agreed upon in October 2021, included handing over the racial and ethnic makeup of individual students, teachers and administrators. The district sent in the students’ data on July 1, per the agreement.
Parents in the Davis School District said they felt betrayed by the invasive nature of the settlement agreement, which required a “master list of all students including each student’s name, student ID, race/ethnicity, grade, and school.”
Corrine Johnson of Utah Parents United told Fox News Digital, “I believe it’s an absolute overreach of the DOJ.”
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“I do want to make it clear that we absolutely understand that racism exists, and it happens, and it happens in Utah… But we see absolutely no reason to collect demographic data, especially racial demographic data, on an entire school district,” she said.
“The DOJ was brought in to help foster a more inclusive environment and data mining our children have no place in that,” Johnson added. “By collecting racial data, the idea, I’m assuming, is we’re trying to racially profile students. And we believe that racial profiling only leads to more discrimination.”
Another parent who spoke to Fox News Digital had just moved into the district from Alaska when the DOJ’s investigation was close to nearing completion. She told Fox News that she now has concerns about the data sent to the DOJ.
“The DOJ began investigating the district in 2019, and since that time, it has been complying with all of its data requests,” the district told Fox News Digital.
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Adding to the concern over the “intrusive” data collection, the mom from Alaska said, was the DOJ’s recent data breach that affected thousands of California gun owners.
“It’s dangerous because you’re leaving a child vulnerable to the exposure of their data,” she said. “That data that’s being pulled is [on]… all students. This isn’t exclusive to just those who have filed a report of racial harassment or discrimination.”
“I see no justification for that,” the mother added.
The settlement also requested details of training including, “a list of staff who were required to, but did not attend the trainings.”
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Another mom told Fox News Digital that she believed children are being forced to pay for the school district’s “severe lack of leadership” and “severe lack of transparency.”
She continued, “It’s protecting them from owning up to their mistakes.”
The DOJ’s investigation found severe allegations of discrimination. For example, the DOJ said that non-Black students called Black students the “n-word,” “monkeys or apes;” and taunted them with monkey noises. The investigation concluded that the “pervasive” and “offensive race-based harassment” plaguing schools was caused because the district was “deliberately indifferent to known student harassment based on race.”
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It was also unclear how long the data will be retained. “The federal government is required to maintain and destroy this information in keeping with 34 CFR 99.35. The DOJ has not communicated a date to the District by which they will destroy student records,” the Utah school district told Fox News Digital.
“The federal government has been collecting ethnicity and race data on students for years. The U.S. Department of Education requires these standards for federal education and accountability reports,” the district said. “Federal law requires the state to report the total number of students in these categories in each school to the federal government. These reports help keep track of changes in student enrollment and various other statistics, such as graduation rates, to ensure that all students receive the educational programs and services to which they are entitled.”
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“I think that this example of the Department of Justice just speaks to the greater issue that we are finding that parents have with their children’s information being used without permission and being used in ways that they don’t feel meets a local education need,” Johnson said.
The Justice Department released a statement that said, “The Department does not comment on ongoing enforcement matters.”