This week the Department of Education is under investigation after a Black employee reported a case of vandalism in her work office. As reported by NBC News, colleagues at the DOE in Washington, believe that the attack may have been racially motivated, given the items that were tampered with. 

Among the personal belongings vandalized include African art figurines and an iconic photo of Ruby Bridges. DOE employees told NBC reporters that the figurines were beheaded and their limbs removed. The photo of Ruby Bridges was torn from the wall and damaged. 

“We can confirm there was an incident involving an employee’s personal belongings on the third floor,” Angela Morabito, an Education Department spokesperson, told NBC. “Secretary DeVos took immediate action, including referring the case to Federal Protective Services for a comprehensive investigation, increasing building security, and most importantly, ensuring the impacted employee was supported.”

Ruby Bridges is escorted by US Federal Marshals into William Frantz elementary school.
Ruby Bridges is escorted by US Federal Marshals into William Frantz elementary school during the second week of the court ordered integration, New Orleans, Louisiana, November 28, 1960. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

According to the Washington Post, the employee who found her office in shambles after returning from a short leave, was a member of the diversity change agent program at the department. The initiative trains employees to foster inclusive workplaces.

On Thursday a department-wide memo was sent to staff members working within elementary and secondary education. “There was an unfortunate incident on our floor this week,” read the email sent from DOE official Frank Brogan and obtained by NBC. “An office was vandalized. This cowardly action is intolerable and unacceptable.” 

The email also asked for employees with knowledge of the incident to contact security. As well, DOE staffers were encouraged to reach out to leaders if they have any issues or suggestions as it relates to the case.

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