Muslim civil rights group says a harassment investigation by St. Cloud school officials was flawed

Tech high school
A student at Tech high school in St. Cloud, Minn., created a Facebook.com group called "I hate the Somalians at Tech High", a tangible sign of the racial tensions growing in St. Cloud area schools.
MPR Photo/Ambar Espinoza

A Muslim civil rights group says a St. Cloud school district report released this week on the harassment of Somali high school students is flawed.

The internal investigation found scattered incidents of behavioral problems among a limited number of students at the district's two high schools.

District officials say they found no evidence to support most of the complaints filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

The council's Lori Saroya says the district's report is not thorough. She says the civil rights group has hosted two listening sessions with more than 20 students.

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"When we asked them how many had talked to administrators or teachers--how many had actually reported it--there were very few people that had," said Saroya. "So I think the majority are not even going to the administrators. So the incidents that they (district officials) have on file aren't really representative of what's going on."

Saroya said school administrators are treating these incidents as behavioral problems.

"It seems like they keep handing off suspensions and detentions that aren't really dealing with the root of the problem," Saroya said.

Saroya says CAIR is still hoping that the U.S. Department of Education will investigate the complaints through its Office of Civil Rights.