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Peoria Unified School District starts new school year still under federal monitoring

The Peoria Unified School District enters the new school year under federal monitoring.

Civil rights investigators found that the district knew that racial harassment led to a hostile environment at Vistancia Elementary, but did not sufficiently respond.

The U.S. Department of Education and Peoria have a deal on how the district will get in line with civil rights law.

One requirement was that Peoria do audits of all reported racial harassment incidents at each of its 40-plus schools to be turned in to the feds in January and June.

KJZZ News made a public records request to see the audits from last school year, but they’re not available yet due to formatting.

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“And so [PUSD] gathered and compiled all of that information we submitted to them, and they wanted it to be a little bit more specific,” said Danielle Airey, Peoria’s communications chief.

The district is working with the feds so racial harassment is not the legacy at Vistancia, where Airey said there is now new leadership

Airey added that Peoria has finished most requirements the feds handed down last September.

“Every time someone brings forward something that is a concern, we need to make sure we're addressing it,” she said.

An Education Department spokesperson did not answer if Peoria has so far been satisfactorily compliant with the agreement, and they would not discuss a case in monitoring.

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Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.