The Prior Lake-Savage Area School Board study session got heated Monday night as activists demanded two Prior Lake High School students be disciplined for their involvement in a racist video directed at a Black classmate.
The video in question started to circulate on social media earlier this month and led to a peaceful protest outside the high school on Nov. 11.
The video features a teen girl, who district officials have identified as a PLHS student, repeatedly saying racial slurs and encouraging the target of the video to take their own life. PLHS student Nya Sigin later identified herself as the alleged target.
During the public comment period, several of Sigin’s supporters and activists took to the podium, in front of a full house of community members, to share their concerns over the video and race-related issues at the school.
Things took a drastic turn after Board Vice-Chair Michael Nelson concluded the public comment period, stating there were no more public speakers listed.
Twin Cities activist Lavish Mack confronted the board and demanded the public comment portion of the meeting continue, leading some board members to step out.
“I heard hundreds of stories from these students. I’m not here to talk about equity, equality or diversity. I’m here to demand that the school take accountability in the light of an international scandal. It shouldn’t have to take the world to have to watch you make a decision,” Mack said. “You can step out. I’m going to keep speaking to these people that you guys are supposed to represent ... you only exist in this room to represent them.”
Board members eventually returned and adjourned the meeting, canceling the items they were going to discuss on the agenda. The school board later had a closed meeting.
Superintendent Teri Staloch issued a written statement Monday night announcing that the student who made the video is no longer enrolled at the school and the Savage Police Department is continuing its investigation.
“Two weeks ago we all became aware of a racist video shared by a student on social media. The horrific, racist video continues to cause pain and hurt for all in our community, particularly our BIPOC students, staff and families,” Staloch stated. “To be clear, our school does not tolerate racism or hate speech. Our hearts go out to the student victim and her family. We have been in contact with them and are seeking ways to support them.
“Regarding the student seen in the video, that student is no longer enrolled in Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools,” Staloch continued. “Per data privacy laws, we cannot share any details about the district’s investigation or identify actions the district has taken to address student conduct as a result of its investigation. The Savage Police Department is continuing its investigation.”
Staloch also stated that the district’s focus continues to be on the safety and well-being of its students.
“We have been communicating regularly with our families, students and staff. We have been convening groups to share ideas, discuss opportunities and identify ways to provide a school environment that is safe, respectful and where every student feels a sense of belonging,” Staloch stated. “We are listening to the voices and the needs of our students. This work will continue as we try to heal and move forward with work that will improve the lived experience for our students. We hope this experience can help us come together as a community, in solidarity, in support of our students and the environment of respect they all deserve.”