Mpls. school district drops contract with politically-connected group

The Minneapolis school district has ended a contract with a community group it hired to help address the achievement gap.

The Community Standards Initiative signed a $375,000 agreement with the district in May promising to identify 300 students who needed mental health care and other services. Last week, CSI's program manager Clarence Hightower sent a letter to the district saying his group didn't have enough staff to fulfill the terms of the contract.

The issue has led Republicans in the Minnesota Senate to call for an investigation of Minneapolis Democratic Senators Bobby Joe Champion and Jeff Hayden, claiming they pressured members of the school board into signing the contact with CSI.

Hightower says his group received $75,000 in payments from the district. He said by Oct. 20 he'll offer a full accounting to the school board of how that money was spent.

"I am proud of the fact that although we don't have 300 students we have 191 students. But I'm also aware that I don't have the human resources to move this to the next level," he said.

According to a statement from Minneapolis Public Schools, the district will continue to support students enrolled in CSI's program through the end of the school year.

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