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ISD 166 releases statement in response to allegations of racist bullying in local schools

Cook County Schools. Photo by Joe Friedrichs
Cook County Schools. Photo by Joe Friedrichs

A group of concerned residents gathered in downtown Grand Marais on Tuesday, Sept. 26, to discuss recent reports of racism in the local school district. More than 25 people, including a number of local elected officials, attended the meeting to discuss the issue of racism in Cook County. 

In recent weeks the issue of racism in the local school district has been discussed in public meetings, including a school board meeting on Sept. 21 and a meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners on Sept. 26.

The following is a statement sent to WTIP from ISD 166 Superintendent Bill Crandall regarding recent issues of racism that were reported at the local schools. The statement reads:
 
"I want to start out stating that the school district is limited in responding to details due to state and federal laws, meaning data privacy. Thus, the School District cannot answer or address any specific incident or allegation. We see any report not as a one and done but more of a systemic concern that the school is addressing.
 
The district considers all incidents serious in nature and investigates all incidents to get the best understanding of the situation from all perspectives.
 
The school administration follows the policies in place.
 
What does the school do?
 
The counselor and administration have and will be addressing all the secondary classes.
 
The district has brought together our social worker, counselor, Grand Portage representation and building administrators to address issues of harassment with students in all of our schools. The district is going to utilize the services of these individuals to conduct workshops as well as to deal individually with students when any incidents of harassment, bullying or other inappropriate issues arise.
 
The team is looking at resources to bring into our schools outside resources to address racism, bullying, harassment and inappropriate behaviors. The School District always reviews the addition of tolerance programs and restorative justice and schedules these as they become available.
 
The district has put into place this school year PBIS -positive behavior intervention supports.
 
We have the following policies in place:
Harassment and violence
Bullying
Title IX
ADA
Discipline
Internet
 
Students and staff are notified of these policies and procedures and they are reviewed with them on a regular basis.
 
Our district vision is Success for each; respect for all
 
Our schools need to address and exemplify respect for all.
 
We as a community should start having conversations about harassment based upon an individual’s protected classification. These conversations can be uncomfortable but we need to be uncomfortable so we can acknowledge the dignity and worth of EVERYONE.
 
Having these difficult conversations and providing our students with the education on these topics of bullying, harassment, respect, teaching tolerance is where the school is starting the conversation.
 
These conversations need to continue and or start with families and the community as a whole.
 
We cannot ignore or deny the existence that harassment and bullying and that it occurs not only in schools but in our community.
 
The School will be providing our students with education.  Our young people, the students in our schools are the future. In order for our community to be a successful diversified one, our future adults, our current students, should be educated to respect differences and be prepared to stand up and speak up about racism."