Federal Investigators Launch Civil Rights Probe Into Southlake Schools

Southlake, a diversifying suburb, has been at the center of a growing political battle over the ways schools address issues of race, gender, and sexuality

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The U.S. Department of Education’s civil rights enforcement arm is investigating allegations of racial and gender discrimination at the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, the school district confirmed Wednesday.

The department’s Office for Civil Rights notified the suburban school district’s officials last week that it had opened three investigations into complaints about racial and gender discrimination. The agency declined to provide details on the allegations and doesn’t comment on pending investigations, a spokesman said.

Karen Fitzgerald, a Carroll spokeswoman, confirmed that the district had received three notification letters and is “fully cooperating with this process.” 

Former Carroll ISD Board President Buddy Luce said it's a sad day for the district but is one that's long overdue.

"The credit goes to a group of Carroll alumni and the Southlake Anti Racism Coalition who documented hundreds of testimonies by students on what's going on and the way that's been swept under the rug is, I think, the reason why I think the Department of Education Civil Rights Division is having to take this action.

Members of that group said they felt defeated as a group of parents formed a powerful political action committee to shoot down their plan to improve race issues in the district.

Federal investigators have launched a civil rights probe into Southlake schools. The move comes amid allegations of racial and gender discrimination at the Carroll Independent School District. NBC News’ Antonia Hylton is in Southlake following the story.

Candidates backed by the Southlake Families PAC have won every election held since the group was formed.

"Finally! persistence! our voices are being heard, taken seriously," said Robin Cornish, a mother who raised her children in the district.   "This is an important issue, issues or race issues of gender this is important. Most importantly, providing a safe space for children we shouldn't have to worry when we send our kids to school we really shouldn't."

Cornish and other alums say they're grateful someone finally heard their cries. However, some members worry this will only unify their opponents to make this fight even more political.

"No one is trying to bring a liberal agenda, we're trying to have a safe space for our children. They deserve to go to school no matter their gender preference," said Cornish. "To our educators, they deserve to teach without being intimidated.  Who wants to go to work and be afraid?"

Listen to NBC News’ “Southlake” podcast: All episodes available now

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