The suspension of some students who participated in a protest to support Black Lives Matter spawned another walkout this week at Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul.
Dressed in black, about 100 students at the private Catholic school walked out of class on Thursday to protest actions by the administration and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Another walkout may happen if key student demands aren't met at an upcoming meeting, said Alexander Ngo, a senior who helped organize the walkout.
Their demands include punishment for students who use racial or homophobic slurs, an investigation of teachers and staffers they say engage in racist or homophobic behavior, an increase in the number of faculty members of color and the ability for students to use their preferred names and pronouns.
"This is one of the few times that students have actively done something to oppose the racial injustice in our school community," Ngo said. "It was an important movement — a lot of people were glad to be a part of it."
On April 19, about 300 students walked out of classes for National Student Walkout Day and in support of Black Lives Matter. Shortly afterward, a few students, including Ngo, were suspended.
In a letter to parents, school administrators said the students were suspended for carrying signs that were "profane and directed against police officers" and for posting "disrespectful, abusive and demeaning name-calling and leading some inappropriate chanting."
The school said it supports students of color — who make up about 28% of the student body — as well as those who have family members who are first responders or in law enforcement.
In a prepared statement, the school said it supports students in the fight against racial injustice.
"When our students choose to join — and help lead — that effort, it affirms our mission and values, and we believe, bodes well for the future of society," the statement said.
The disciplinary action against Ngo and other students continues the same "punitive action" the movement was fighting, said Jessica Lopez Lyman, a 2004 graduate and an assistant professor of Chicano and Latino studies at the University of Minnesota.
Lopez Lyman, who is Latina, said that "even though there was a lot of racism and microaggressions when I was there, there was a solid foundation for social justice."
Lopez Lyman's father also went to Cretin-Derham Hall, but the family's lineage at the school will end with her, she said. Her young daughter will not be attending when she reaches school age.
"I do not think the administration knows how to educate people of color," she said.
Alex Chhith • 612-673-4759