Minn. District Near Civil Rights Deal

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Minnesota school district must report to the federal government any future allegations of harassment against Somali students as part of a tentative agreement to end a civil rights investigation, the district's superintendent said Monday.

St. Cloud Superintendent Bruce Watkins said all but the final details of the agreement had been reached with the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. The deal up for board approval Thursday night requires that the district make its schools more welcoming to Somalis; it finds that the district broke no federal rules in handling previous incidents, Watkins said.

If the deal is approved, it would end an investigation that began more than a year ago. In March 2010, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations requested a federal investigation into alleged harassment of Muslim students at two St. Cloud high schools during the 2009-2010 school year.

In May 2010, the district's own investigation confirmed some allegations that Somali students were harassed by non-Somali students. However, the district has argued that it responded appropriately. Watkins, who took the job after the complaint was filed, said the agreement doesn't contradict that.

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