“We can confirm there was an incident involving an employee’s personal belongings on the third floor,” spokeswoman Angela Morabito said in a statement, adding that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos referred the matter to Federal Protective Services (FPS) "for a comprehensive investigation."
FPS spokesman Rob Sperling said an employee's personal items — “figurines and pictures” – were damaged at about noon on Tuesday.
“No reported suspects at this time,” Sperling added. “No one was injured and the employee was absent when the incident occurred.”
Earlier Friday, NBC News reported that department employees are concerned the incident could have been racially motivated. According to the story, “African art figurines were found beheaded, with their limbs removed, and a school desegregation poster was damaged.” The report said the incident took place at the department’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The NBC report added that the employee is an African-American woman who works to provide “diversity and inclusion training” to department staffers.
Neither the Department of Education or Federal Protective Services would comment on the nature of the damage or give details about the affected employee. FPS said the incident was still under investigation.
"Because this is an ongoing law-enforcement matter, it is inappropriate for us to comment any further on specifics," said Morabito, who added that DeVos has taken steps to encourage inclusion at the department.
“For your awareness, the diversity change agent program at the Department trains employees involved in the program to foster a more inclusive workplace," she said, "and Secretary DeVos has strengthened it since taking office to ensure a strong culture of inclusion at the Department."
Fox News’ Ashley Cozzolino contributed to this report.