St. Cloud schools racism investigation moves forward

An ongoing federal investigation into the St. Cloud school district over complaints of racial discrimination moves forward this week with face-to-face interviews.

In the spring, a Muslim civil rights group filed a complaint alleging that the St. Cloud and Owatonna school districts were not providing a welcoming environment for minority students.

This is the first time Office for Civil Rights officials are conducting face-to-face interviews with some students, staff, and administrators, Superintendent Bruce Watkins said.

The Office for Civil Rights is responsible for enforcing several Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education.

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Watkins said the interviews are taking place at the district's two high schools over two days.

"This is a part of the follow-up to the complaint that the district was not providing a welcoming environment for minorities," Watkins said.

Watkins is hoping for results soon.

"We haven't been told when the results or any findings will be released," he said. "We're hoping after tomorrow they might give us an indication of how long it would take."

Before the interviews, the St. Cloud school district had been providing information requested by the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights. The interviews will continue through Thursday.