WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating the Maize Unified School District.

According to the USDE, they opened an investigation on Thursday, Nov. 16, into the Maize Unified School District “for alleged shared ancestry violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), which prohibits race, color, or national origin discrimination, including harassment based on a person’s shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.”

The USDE has shared the list below, which they say reflects institutions that are currently under investigation for possible discrimination based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics in Fiscal Year 2024 as of November 16, 2023.

According to USDE, five of the complaints allege antisemitic harassment, and two allege anti-Muslim harassment. It does not state which complaint is against Maize USD 266.

List of Open Title VI Shared Ancestry Investigations, Fiscal Year 2024 (beginning 10/1/2023):

InstitutionLocationDate Investigation Opened
Maize Unified School DistrictMaize, KSNov. 16, 2023
Lafayette CollegeEaston, PANov. 16, 2023
Cornell UniversityIthaca, NYNov. 16, 2023
Columbia UniversityNew York, NYNov. 16, 2023
Wellesley CollegeWellesley, MANov. 16, 2023
University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PANov. 15, 2023
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and ArtNew York, NYNov. 15, 2023

KSN News reached out to the Maize Unified School District late Thursday evening after the information was released from the USDE.

Maize sent the following statement to KSN News:

Maize USD 266 can confirm that the district received an email from the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights at 6:38 p.m. on Nov. 16. A copy of the complaint was not provided to Maize USD 266 by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, so we are unable to make any further comment regarding this matter. 

Maize USD 266 takes allegations of discrimination seriously and is committed to cooperating fully with any investigation. The school district is dedicated to providing a place for teaching and learning that prioritizes and champions respect and inclusivity and where all students and employees feel safe and valued.

Lori O’Toole Buselt, M.A. Executive Director of Communications Maize USD 266

According to the USDE, Title VI’s protection from race, color, or national origin discrimination extends to students who experience discrimination, including harassment, based on their actual or perceived: (i) shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics; or (ii) citizenship or residency in a country with a dominant religion or distinct religious identity.

The USDE says schools that receive federal financial assistance have a responsibility to address discrimination when the discrimination involves racial, ethnic, or ancestral slurs or stereotypes; or is based on a student’s skin color, physical features, or style of dress that reflects both ethnic and religious traditions, to name a few characteristics. Likewise, schools have a responsibility to address discrimination against students based on the region of the world they come from or are perceived to come from.

The USDE says the OCR is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination by educational institutions on the basis of disability, race, color, national origin, sex, and age, as well as the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act of 2001. OCR’s investigations typically include collecting and analyzing relevant evidence from the complainant, the institution, and other sources; conducting interviews of the complainant, the institution’s personnel, and other witnesses; and conducting site visits, if appropriate.