Two students face disciplinary action after an investigation into into two racist messages that were reported at Prior Lake High School last winter, the district said.
The incidents happened on Feb. 22, when a racist note was allegedly placed in a student’s gym bag, and Feb. 28, when a racist message was discovered on a mirror in a girls’ bathroom.
The district did not identify the students who face discipline.
PLSAS initially investigated the Feb. 22 incident but turned the case over to an external law firm when a definitive conclusion could not be reached. An attorney then investigated both incidents for the district.
The primary objective of the investigation was to determine who authored each message, the school district said in a press release. The investigation involves private educational data on several students, so the district is limited in what it can release based on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, the district said.
According to an update the district sent Aug. 9 to employees and families with children in the district:
-A handwriting expert from a forensics firm analyzed the messages, and the messages were compared with students’ handwriting. All student names were redacted. The handwriting analysis indicated that certain students may have written the messages.
-Based on that information, the school district made multiple attempts to set up interviews between students/families and the external law firm’s investigator, with limited success.
-The investigator conducted one interview, which produced further information. Based on an analysis of the available evidence, the investigator concluded that it was “more probable than not” that specific students were responsible for writing each message.
-The district intends to impose discipline with respect to these two students consistent with its discipline policy, the district said.
PLSAS officials also said the district has taken steps to promote conversations about the culture of the school by working with city, township and community partners, along with students and staff, to implement their ideas to drive change in the school.
Here are a few examples that took place in 2021-22, according to the press release:
- A Student Advisory Group was formed, comprised of students from the Black Student Union, Asian Student Association, Muslim Student Association, Native American Student Coalition, Queer Teen Coalition, POWER (Passionate, Open-minded, Women, Education, Respect) and Student Council.
- SAG partnered with Prior Lake Rotary on the first Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Breakfast held at PLHS. Students created “Lakers 4 Unity” stickers and pins that were shared during the celebration.
- A Global Cultural Festival sponsored by the Black Student Union, Asian Student Association, Muslim Student Association and the POWER Group was held Jan. 24.
- Students held a school-wide Unity Rally/Pep Fest on March 24.
- A Unity Mural for PLHS was created by students and funded by the Prior Lake Rotary.
- Monthly Community Coffee and Conversations were held with the cities of Savage, Prior Lake and Credit River, along with Spring Lake Township.
- Caring and Committed Conversations: These are conversations held at all grade levels, structured to bring about ideas and solutions to make the school environment welcoming and inclusive for all.