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Federal Education Dept. Opens Civil Rights Investigation Into Hampton Schools

The Department of Education’s civil rights office will investigate an allegation of racism at a school in Hampton, stemming from complaints made by the parents of a young girl.

John and Julie Cochrane say their daughter Kora was bullied for her race at two different Hampton elementary schools, starting in between 2016.

Kora is black and her adoptive parents are white.

The Cochranes have since transferred Kora to a private school in Massachusetts. But they’ve accused Hampton administrators of discrimination in how they handled the complaints.

The family reported the issue to the education department’s Office for Civil Rights late this summer.

Hampton officials, after their own investigation earlier this year, ruled that Kora’s experience did not meet their official definition of bullying. They also declined to reimburse the Cochranes for their new private school tuition.

Now, a federal education spokesman confirms the department will investigate one of the family’s allegations. The spokesman and the Cochranes declined to offer further specifics.

Federal investigators have contacted the school district for information as part of the investigation.

Hampton’s superintendent and school board chair did not respond to a request for comment. They’ve previously denied the school in any way mishandled the case or infringed on Kora’s civil rights.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.
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