In light of VNL report, Grand Forks schools superintendent says racism has no place in his district

Grand Forks Public Schools is coming up with a plan it will present in October to combat racist behavior in the district
Published: Aug. 18, 2020 at 5:56 PM CDT
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (Valley News Live) - A northern valley school district is responding after we reported on stories students shared on social media of experiencing racism in the classroom.

“First and foremost what I read was appalling,”Grand Forks Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Terry Brenner said on Tuesday.

The district is preparing for an unprecedented school year due to COVID-19, yet also on the mind of administrators is dealing with the fallout of a recent racist incident.

“I was embarrassed that any of this was linked to our school district. I was embarrassed that any of this was linked to our community. And frankly, I was embarrassed that any of this was linked to our humanity at all,” Dr.Brenner, who is Jewish, said.

Brenner is talking about an incident in June. After the spring year finished, a group of high school students posted some racially insensitive remarks on social media. That led him to take immediate action in the hopes of improving the district.

“We have commissioned a committee that I chair called our diversity, equity, and inclusivity committee, which had broad representation of our community,” Brenner said of the 25 member group.

On Monday, we reported on an Instagram page called “Racism in ND Schools” where students anonymously share their classroom experiences.

Students from Grand Forks schools made several posts.

In one, a Red River High School graduate said they were attacked physically and verbally for being muslim.

Another Red River graduate said he suffered broken ribs in a locker room brawl for being Jewish-African. He acknowledged, however, that he never reported this incident.

“So many of us walk this earth in privilege and don’t even understand what privilege is,” Brenner said.

Brenner added that his goal is to challenge the biases students and staff may have.

“We have to have those uncomfortable conversations. That is one of our goals as well,” he said.

He’s preparing to present a plan to the school board in October with steps on addressing racist and discriminatory behavior in the district.

West Fargo Public Schools has yet to respond to our requests for comment on these posts, while Fargo Public Schools provided a statement on Monday without making anyone available for an on-camera interview.

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