In a significant development, multiple federal civil rights investigations are currently probing the Frisco Independent School District, following substantial allegations of pervasive discrimination. The inquiries, as declared by the U.S. Department of Education, span charges of disparate treatment in the context of disability, gender, race, and age.
These complaints, lodged in 2022 and the current year, were directed to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), a division of the U.S. Department of Education. Amid these allegations, two underscore sexual harassment, while a separate one reveals an account of sexual violence. A distinctive facet of these charges includes alleged denial of benefits, predicated on disability, sex, and race, compounded by accessibility hindrances and apparent difficulties with academic accommodations.
Earlier this year, the district found itself in the spotlight when Marvin Lowe, a trustee, was implicated in an incident of purported harassment of a transgender student at an educational assembly in San Antonio. As documented by The Dallas Morning News, Lowe approached a teenage attendee post a discussion on transgender students in Texan schools, identifying himself as a Republican with divergent perspectives on the issue.
The complaint said Lowe started talking about how “Men like to walk around naked with their junk hanging around,” the Dallas Morning News reported, according to Dallas Observer. Lowe has said that this isn’t true and that he approached the student out of love. It is unclear if the reported complaint against Lowe is one of the open investigations into the Frisco ISD.
Adding to the intrigue, Pride Frisco, a philanthropic entity advocating for LGBTQ communities in Frisco and North Texas, publicized in a recent press release that 13 federal civil rights investigations were underway concerning the Frisco ISD. The claim, however, was promptly refuted by the school district when solicited for a response.
“Frisco ISD currently has seven open OCR investigations,” a spokesperson for the district said. “The OCR website lists an investigation under each statute that applies to the allegation. As a result, two of the investigations are listed three times each and two are listed two times each. However, there are only seven open investigations.”
The district’s representative clarified that none of the seven complaints currently under scrutiny pertains to LGBTQ students or related concerns. They stated that the district has duly responded to each of these complaints, with one even seeing the assignment of a federal mediator in an effort to achieve resolution without escalating to a formal investigation.
The spokesperson said: “The [complaint] summaries reveal no patterns or commonalities that would lead us to believe there are any systemic issues. In fact, in all seven of these cases, we believe that OCR is likely to determine that the district acted appropriately.”
Meanwhile, Justin Culpepper, a prominent figure of Pride Frisco, illuminated another facet of the issue. He posited that despite Frisco’s burgeoning population, the influx of new residents is increasingly accompanied by the realization that the city’s welcome might not extend to everyone.
“Yes, other districts have been facing similar complaints and investigations, but the sheer volume here and the speed at which they were all opened is significant,” Justin said. “This is also in one of the fastest-growing cities in America that has been attempting to sell itself as diverse, tolerant, welcoming.
“Many companies and businesses, families, etc., are relocating here only to realize that the schools are great if you fit a certain mold but their children don’t fit that mold and are miserable, and the school leadership refuses to do anything about these issues when they are reported.”
The Office of Civil Rights, a subdivision of the U.S. Department of Education, is presently overseeing numerous active investigations dispersed across the nation.
Their scope of scrutiny extends to other school districts in North Texas, such as Carroll ISD, Prosper ISD, and Irving ISD. Carroll ISD is perceived as the most high-profile subject among these, confronting eight inquiries tied to allegations of discrimination. The basis of these accusations ranges from disability and race to sexual orientation and gender identity.