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Civil rights complaint filed against Lebanon schools

The mother of two Lebanon school children has filed a complaint against the Lebanon City Schools alleging the district has failed to respond to complaints about racism and bullying.

Heather Allen filed the complaint this week with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. The office has yet to determine whether it will investigate the complaint.

“Hopefully they are going to act sooner than later,” Allen’s lawyer Robert Newman said. “The investigation can go on for quite some time.”

The complaint outlines a series of incidents beginning last August, involving Allen’s biracial children in and outside school and alleging bullying and racial slurs. Earlier this year, school officials disciplined a student and cleaned a slur off a bathroom wall after one incident.

The most recent incident involved a racist posting on the Instagram social network in March directed at Allen’s son at the junior high school. Superintendent Mark North said district officials determined the incident involved activity off school grounds and referred Allen to police.

On Thursday, North said the district already discouraged students from racism and bullying through programs, detailed in a five-page document he provided to reporters, which he said was used in the schools prior to Allen’s complaints.

“There is no place for racial harassment or bullying within our schools. We educate students and staff in an effort to prevent it from occurring,” he said in a statement. He said he had not seen the complaint.

Newman said the Lebanon district could possibly avoid a federal civil rights lawsuit by taking additional steps. He pointed to a symposium scheduled this weekend in the Colerain schools north of Cincinnati in response to a similar case.

“Race is an issue at both schools. Racial disharmony is at both schools,” he said.