Eastern Carver County Schools is being sued for allegedly failing to adequately respond to racial discrimination.
Six African-American students filed the lawsuit, through their parents, and are represented by a team of four attorneys.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota and seeks a jury trial to determine damages for emotional distress, mental anguish and the loss of educational opportunities.
The complaint alleges that “racism has permeated ISD 112 for years” and that students were verbally and physically assaulted, profiled and threatened because of their skin color.
The students attended Chaska Middle School East, Pioneer Ridge Middle School, Chaska High School and Bluff Creek Elementary School. Some of the students have left the school district as a result of racism and district inaction, the lawsuit alleges.
The suit alleges that in one instance on Snapchat, a white student, with a gun on his lap, threatened to kill students if they attended a school assembly at Chaska High School regarding race relations.
The suit recaps several incidents that have been reported in the media, including students wearing blackface at a Chaska High School football game; a middle schooler who found his stolen gym shirt with the N-word written on it; and a Snapchat image with the faces of 25 African-American students superimposed on a map labeled “Negro Hill.”
The suit alleges that administration was unresponsive to reports of discrimination, and that “white students do not suffer meaningful consequences for their actions …”
“Our public schools are supposed to respect and keep children safe while creating an educational environment in which they can thrive. That didn’t happen for African-American students in Chaska,” stated the plaintiffs’ attorney Anna P. Prakash, of Nichols Kaster, PLLP, in a press release. “Our clients tried and continue to try to get help from the administration. But, with all they have experienced and because meaningful change has not happened, they filed this lawsuit.”
“The district will not comment on specific litigation,” said Celi Haga, district director of communications and community, in an email.
However, she did repeat a statement sent from Superintendent Clint Christopher to Attorney General Keith Ellison: “Our School Board, and our district staff, are committed to an educational environment where all students feel safe, welcome, and included, and have the tools and resources to succeed. We have not yet realized that for every student, and have been working in earnest to move the needle and improve outcomes for every child that walks through our doors.”
Concerned parents met with Ellison at the Chaska Community Center on Aug. 20 to talk about alleged racism in the school district. An invitation to meet with Ellison prompted the district response.
The district recently conducted an equity audit “to understand how to improve instruction, curriculum, and school climate for all students in our district, especially those that are traditionally underserved.”