History and Philosophy of the Civil Rights Team Project
The foundation of the Civil Rights Team Project is the Maine Civil Rights Act, which protects people from threats, property damage, and violence when motivated by bias. Initial enforcement efforts of the Maine Civil Rights Act revealed that many violations involve young people and happen in our schools.
In an effort to reduce the frequency and impact of these destructive behaviors amongst young people and school communities, the Office of the Attorney General created the Civil Rights Team Project. The CRTP launched as a pilot project in 18 schools in 1996. Initial efforts focused on education about the civil rights law and increasing communication and collaboration between schools and law enforcement.
The Civil Rights Team Project has since grown: in focus and participation. The CRTP now focuses on changing the culture and climate in our schools to one that will actively prevent bias-based behaviors, including violations of the Maine Civil Rights Act. Youth are central to this process; real change in our schools must respect and include student voices.
Hundreds of Maine schools, at all age levels, public and private, rural and urban, and in all sixteen counties, have participated in the Project. There are currently more than 150 schools in the Civil Rights Team Project.