St. Cloud school district reaches agreement on complaint that Somali American students were harassed

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

The school district in St. Cloud agreed it will report any future incidents of harassment of Somali-American students to the U.S. Department of Education, following an investigation of a complaint last year from the Council on American- Islamic Relations.

However, investigators did not find the district broke any laws, school officials said.

St. Cloud school district board member Gerald Von Korff said he will vote in favor of the tentative agreement with the education department. "I know that there are board members who are wondering why would we sign an agreement with the Office on Civil Rights since there's been no evidence of a violation," Korff said. "And the answer is, we're always willing to do something that's good for kids."

Lori Saroya, president of the Minnesota chapter of CAIR, hopes the agreement will work and there will be no need for future complaints.

"Our goal throughout this process is to make sure the students are safe, and they're going to school without being mistreated," Saroya said. "If this can accomplish that, that's great. But if not, we'll see what our next steps are."

CAIR had meetings with St. Cloud school administrators since June of 2009 about reports of student on student harassment.

In April, the Owatonna public schools reached a settlement with federal officials after complaints of harassment of Somali-American students.

The St. Cloud School Board will vote on the agreement Thursday.

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