RAHS works to handle students’ post-election concerns


This tile was found outside a basement classroom at Irondale High School in New Brighton Nov. 11. According to the Mounds View school district, student responsible received “strong, swift disciplinary action.”

Amidst reports of racist incidents at schools in the metro and beyond, Roseville Area Schools said it’s doing its best to address students’ concerns following the election of President-elect Donald Trump.

According to the district, Roseville Area High School has not seen incidents as severe as the racist graffiti found at Maple Grove High School, nor the pro-KKK tile found at Irondale High School in New Brighton.

Still, district communications supervisor Carrie Ardito said RAHS has seen students having tense debates about the presidential election results, and that staff have stepped in to mediate. The school has also upped its work to support its diverse student body.

“RAHS staff has been very proactive in its efforts to maintain a positive, supportive school environment for all kids,” Ardito said.

Part of that work came the day after Election Day, Nov. 9, according to a district email sent to RAHS parents. The email from Principal Jenny Loeck reiterated a statement she read at the end of that day over the high school’s public address system.

Loeck’s message said the school strives to “offer equitable and respectful educational experiences for every student,” regardless of race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ability, home or first language, national origin, age or physical appearance.

“Despite the current political tensions that are occurring in our cities and across the country,” Loeck’s message said, “I ask that all students and staff come together and celebrate our own equity-driven school community, where we value a difference in beliefs and yet find unity and peace.”

Ardito said in recent weeks RAHS staff underwent training around culturally relevant classrooms, increased the number of student support meetings and increased school “circles,” staff-supported opportunities for students to discuss issues.

 

Irondale students find KKK tile

At Irondale High School, students entering a basement classroom found a wooden tile that read, “The KKK wants you.”

They reported their discoveary Nov. 11, and according to Mounds View Public Schools spokesperson Colin Sokolowski, school staff immediately removed the tile.

Sokolowski said the student who was responsible for placing the tile was identified and was the recipient of “strong, swift disciplinary action.”

A school statement said, “Irondale does not, and will not, tolerate harassment or hate speech of any kind.”

The statement also listed the school’s efforts at post-election inclusivity, which included “Talking Circles” and student greeters on Nov. 18.

“All of these positive efforts far overshadow some of the negativity experienced by so many schools and colleges around the state and nation,” the school statement said. 

“Our students’ positive voices have been louder and larger than the isolated handful of those who have tried to disrupt and divide our school with hurtful signs, words or actions.”

 

Students stage demonstrations

RAHS students staged two demonstrations Nov. 18. 

According to Ardito, at 12:40 p.m. that day, students walked out of school and headed to the Minnesota Department of Education, making the roughly three-quarters of a mile walk in drizzly conditions.

She said some 60-70 kids trekked to the Department of Education, where they rallied around their concerns about diversity in curricula at the school, district and state levels.

Once school was over at 2:40 p.m., another group of students staged a march out of school to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as President-elect Trump. 

 

Jesse Poole contributed to this story. Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. Follow him on Twitter @mmunzenrider.

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