City leaders and school superintendents of several Twin Cities suburbs say they need to work together to keep their schools and communities racially mixed.
About 120 people including officials from Richfield, Oakdale, St. Louis Park and other established suburbs met today at the University of Minnesota to help coordinate efforts for fair housing and school integration.
Former Eden Prairie school superintendent Melissa Krull said the state should consider the consequences of open enrollment. She recalls several white families in Eden Prairie leaving the district while families of color stayed.
"Families were looking for other white communities that were more segregated by white students," Krull said. "Those kinds of pathways that we allow or create don't work toward the end of a fully integrated school district or community.
"And I think we have to ask questions and change those rules and laws so we really get what we want here."
Several leaders said they want housing policies to support racially integrated schools.
Richfield Mayor Debbie Goettel says she would like to see affordable housing built throughout the region, including in the newer, outer-ring suburbs.
"We have a lot of affordable housing. We think we've surpassed our goal," Goettel said. "We have great transit, and that's what brings the affordable housing piece there. But it shouldn't be all the burden of some suburbs and not spread out."
Goettel says she's also concerned about real-estate agents who she says are steering home buyers to certain neighborhoods based on their race.
The U's Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity organized the forum. It was intended to start a conversation between cities and schools as the Metropolitan Council develops a new housing plan.