Minnesota students file federal lawsuit against school district alleging 'deliberate indifference' to racist incidents
© iStock

Six current and former students of Minnesota's Independent School District 112 are suing the school district over allegations teachers and administrators demonstrated “deliberate indifference” to repeated racist bullying and other episodes.

The 50-page civil rights lawsuit claimed school officials failed to take “any meaningful action” in response to multiple reported racist incidents, the Daily Beast reported. 

Last year, the school came under fire after white students attended a football game in blackface and one student wore an afro, the Star Tribune reported. A few month later, in December 2018, a middle school student’s shirt for gym class was allegedly stolen and vandalized with the n-word before being returned to his locker.


The lawsuit also stated that a student posted on Snapchat holding a gun and threatening to shoot a list of students if they attended an assembly on race relations, the Daily Beast reported.

In April, two white high school students reportedly posted a Snapchat of a location called “Negro Hill” on Google Maps with photos of 25 black students.

The school required the students who made the image apologize to a group of black students in the school in a special assembly, KARE 11 reported, but the school district declined to comment on how the students were disciplined otherwise.

The lawsuit also alleges that black students were the subject of individual bullying, saying that they were physically assaulted, sent death threats and called racial slurs.

Chaska High School, one of the schools in the district, had to delay the release of its yearbook after it was already printed because it included a photo of a student wearing blackface from the football game.

“School staff have little, if any, proper training or experience with respect to properly responding to reports of racism,” the complaint said, according to the Daily Beast. It also alleges that “often times, complaints of discrimination are simply met by silence.” 

Students of color were also prohibited from posting “Black Lives Matter” signs during black history month, according to the lawsuit, as well as another poster featuring Malcolm X because they were “too controversial,” the lawsuit states. When some black students tried to hold a protest called “Black History Uncensored,” some white students held signs that said “All Lives Matter” and followed black students to class.

One mother, Amanda Flowers Peterson, told the Star Tribune that her 6-year-old son was punched in the face twice by a classmate and “told he doesn’t belong.” She accused administrators of declining to call the incident racially motivated. 

The students filing the lawsuit are seeking a jury trial and damages in excess of over $75,000 over the mental anguish and distress caused by the school’s response to the alleged incidents, the Daily Beast reported. 

“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,” Anna Prakash, who represents some of the families, told the Daily Beast. 

A spokesperson for the Independent School District 112 declined to comment on specific litigation. In a letter to Minnesota Attorney General Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonMinnesota sues Juul over rise in youth vaping Jane Fonda calls for protecting water resources at weekly DC climate protest Progressives ramp up fight against Facebook MORE, school district superintendent Clint Christopher said late last month, "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," he continued.