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Activists present requests in Washburn doll incident

Posted by: Steve Brandt under People and neighborhoods, Politics and government, Urban living Updated: January 22, 2013 - 2:33 PM

A group of black community activists that included several Washburn High School parents and alumni pressed Tuesday for greater transparency by the Minneapolis district on a doll-hanging incident at the school.

The group presented sevenaction steps to the district that it said would reveal more about how the student-devised incident unfolded and promote healing in its aftermath.

They asked the district to release internal communications from the day of the incident as well as the security camera video that captured the incident in which a dark-skinned doll was hung by string in a stairwell.

Other requests included Washburn suspension and expulsion data by race and gender, policies regarding expulsions for student safety, a meeting with the Washburn staff to hear student concerns about school climate, a copy of the school budget for at-risk students, and cultural competency training for the school staff led by an outside consultant.

They blamed the school administration for not notifying parents until five days after the Jan. 11 incident. That communication via e-mail was so plagued by technical difficulties that some members of the school’s parent-staff site council arriving for a meeting last Thursday were unaware of the incident. That meeting was cancelled, as were after-school activities that day.

Parent Maren McDonnell said her Washburn senior daughter doesn’t feel safe at the school after the incident. “This was her school and they failed her,” she said.

Activists Mel Reeves said he agrees with the district’s proposed use of restorative justice, a process by which the victims of an incident speak directly to the perpetrators about the harm it caused.

“They need to understand why what they did is wrong,” Reeves said. “We want to sound the alarm so long and so loud that this doesn’t happen again.”

An open community meeting at Washburn to discuss the incident is schedule for 5 p.m. Wednesday in the auditorium of the school, 201 W. 49th St.  Some of those concerned by the incident may also address the Tuesday night meeting of the school board.   
 

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