Multiple Black parents are suing a Minnesota charter school board after their children were racially targeted by white students while at school.
Katelyn Hansen, Kali Proctor, Roynetter Birgans, and Desmond Gilbert initially filed the lawsuit against Duluth Edison Charter Schools in April 2019, following the attacks occurring at the Raleigh and North Star Academy campuses. The parents claim their children were spat on, beaten, called racial slurs, and school officials refused to intervene. Black students were repeatedly called the “N-word,” “monkeys,” and “negroes.”
In one shocking act of abuse in 2017, a white student at North Star Academy threatened to stab a biracial kindergartner with a screwdriver because she looked “different.” An older white student then punched the child so hard during a bus ride that it bruised her rib. Gilbert, the girl’s father, says he sought help from school officials multiple times but was brushed off.
One of the school’s cultural liaisons, Chrystal Gardner, says that the N-Word was being used “loosely” by white students. However, Black students felt scared to raise their concerns out of fear of being ignored. She repeatedly notified school leadership regarding the “racially hostile culture” but says no action was taken. She was fired in June 2018 for complaining about racism and recently settled a separate lawsuit with Duluth Edison Charter Schools.
Tammy Rackliffe, a spokesperson for the charter school system, says that they vehemently deny any allegations of discrimination and “has vigorously defended itself against these false allegations.”
American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, the National Women’s Law Center, and several other organizations have banded together to support the parents and children mentioned in the lawsuit. None of the affected children still attended any institutions within Duluth Edison Charter Schools.