Investigators find damage in black Education Department employee's office was not a 'personal attack'

Investigators find damage in black Education Department employee's office was not a 'personal attack'
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An investigation into an incident earlier this year that some Education Department employees called racist has concluded that it was not “caused by a personal attack,” a department official confirmed to The Hill on Tuesday.

In August, the office of a black employee at the Department of Education was allegedly vandalized. A poster depicting Ruby Bridges, a little girl who became an icon of the civil rights movement after she helped integrate an all-white elementary school in the South, appeared to have been torn down from the wall and damaged. 

African art figurines in the employee’s office were also allegedly found with their heads and limbs removed.

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But a Department of Education official confirmed to The Hill that the Department had “no reason to believe that this was caused by a personal attack” after two investigations into the incident officially closed.

The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Education and the Federal Protective Service both conducted a joint investigation into the incident, coming to the same conclusion, according to Catherine Grant, a public affairs liaison.

Officials briefed Education Department employees Tuesday, explaining that they interviewed staff members and examined records to “see who was where when.”

Officials believe the framed poster of Bridges fell off of the wall, and the items that were damaged were destroyed as the poster fell. 

"Based on the investigative work, both FPS and OIG criminal investigators determined that the damage did not appear to be the result of vandalism, but rather the artwork had fallen off the wall and when it fell, caused the damage to the items in the office," Grant said in a statement to The Hill. 

The employee whose office was involved in the incident had recently been designated as a “diversity change agent” within the department, NBC News reported at the time. The incident occurred in the Education Department’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. 

The Hill has reached out to the Department of Homeland Security, which houses the FPS, for comment.