Staff Directory 6370436

Mara Klecker

Reporter | Washington County
Phone: 612-673-4440

Mara Klecker covers the western Twin Cities suburbs for the Star Tribune. She previously spent two years covering social services for the Omaha World-Herald. 


A native South Dakotan and a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's journalism college, Klecker has always called the Midwest home. She's worked on journalism projects in Ecuador, Nicaragua and Nepal. In her free time, she can be found reading, hiking or planning her next international trip.
Recent content from Mara Klecker
Jefferson Community School Principal Holly Kleppe greeted students returning to school Feb. 8 in Minneapolis.

Parent-led equity groups aim to address racism in Minneapolis schools

Their work has taken on more urgency amid controversial redesign that will reshuffle the racial demographics at city's schools.
Kelly Spratt, president of Allina Health’s Buffalo Hospital, joined about 50 community members at a prayer service held at Buffalo Free Evangelical

Faith leaders in Buffalo pray for continued community healing

Service honors all those touched by the clinic shooting in Buffalo By Mara Klecker  mara.klecker@startribune.com
Police investigating death of a man found Sunday night

Police investigating death of a man found Sunday night

Minneapolis police are investigating the death of a man found on Sunday night.Just before 8:30 p.m., officers responded to the 2400 block of Golden Valley…
Pedestrian killed in St. Paul on Sunday night

Pedestrian killed in St. Paul on Sunday night

A pedestrian was struck and killed in St. Paul's Payne-Phalen neighborhood on Sunday night, police said.The incident happened around 9 p.m. near the intersection of…
The BCA released this photo of 2-year-old Raylene Childs, who was in the vehicle stolen Sunday night.

Amber alert canceled after toddler in stolen vehicle in Minneapolis found safe

Authorities canceled an Amber Alert Sunday night after a toddler in a vehicle stolen in Minneapolis was found safe.Minneapolis police were looking for a beige…
Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Ed Graff took questions Wednesday from reporters following a tour of Pillsbury Elementary School to see what

Minneapolis schools plan to reopen middle and high schools in April

Families will still have a distance learning option.
Man fatally shot in Minneapolis on Sunday

Man fatally shot in Minneapolis on Sunday

It's the city's eighth homicide so far this year.
An ice sculpture that was removed by the city of St. Paul last week has returned and now sits in the front yard of 1218 Summit Av.

Ice sculpture taken down by the city of St. Paul finds new home in neighbor's yard

The ice sculpture has returned, this time with a new home.A well-trodden trail through the snow in the front yard of a residence on St.…
Joseph “Jay” James Westwater Jr.

Joseph 'Jay' James Westwater Jr., emergency medicine doctor, dies at 65

Joseph "Jay" James Westwater Jr. was always eager to learn something new and had a knack for navigating chaotic situations.It's that quality that pushed him…
Jefferson Community School Principal Holly Kleppe greeted students coming back to school Monday in Minneapolis.

Mpls. schools welcome the youngest students back

Pre-K and kindergarten students braved the cold Monday morning for their first day of in-person learning. First-through fifth-graders return later this month.
Principal Jessica Skowronek explained how teachers could use a portable plexiglass divider to interact with students safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Minneapolis schools prepare elementary buildings ahead of students' return

Students will find several changes meant to reduce COVID-19 risks.
After offering an “air hug,” Principal Ryan Vernosh got the real thing from a student at St. Paul’s Maxfield Elementary, where pre-K through 2nd

Some Minnesota teachers apply to stay home, as students return

Dozens of Minnesota school districts, some fielding hundreds of requests for staff accommodations, returned to in-person learning for elementary students on Monday.
Kristen Gupta, a French teacher working at South High School in Minneapolis participated in a Sept. 30 rally to make sure schools are safe and equi

Mpls. schools must accept staff work-from-home requests

More than 2,900 Minneapolis Public Schools staff were called back to work in person, starting Monday. On Saturday, a court said the district must honor work-from-home accommodations in place or in process.
Lindsey West, who teaches fifth grade at Clara Barton Open School, and others protested in-person learning in the fall.

Mpls. teachers union files charge over lack of talks about in-person return

The union says the district has refused to negotiate during the pandemic.
Teachers have had to alter or delay planned lectures in order to help their students process such recent events as the insurrection at the U.S. Capito

Minnesota teachers make time for students to discuss current events, from insurrection to inauguration

Social studies educators are balancing lesson plans with discussions about history-making news in real-time.
In-person learning returned for kindergarten through second graders at Sonnesyn Elementary School on Tuesday in New Hope. Here, a young student came p

It's really back to school now for state's youngest students

Many elementary schools around the state brought the youngest elementary students back Tuesday, with more to follow in the coming weeks.
Hamza Dirie, 9, a fourth-grader, held a sign out his father’s truck’s window calling to empower school teachers during Tuesday night’s rally.

Minneapolis, St. Paul teachers unions oppose school reopening plans

Union leaders are calling for additional COVID safety precautions.
Lyndale Community School, like others in the Minneapolis district, has held virtual open houses for students and families this year. (Submitted photo

Minneapolis schools host virtual open houses for families to check out new school assignments

The online tours continue through the end of the month.
Students tuned up their robots between matches at the May 2017 State Robotics Tournament at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis.

With after-school programs gone virtual, Minneapolis schools see sharp drop in interest

The decrease in enrollment could mean less funding for the programs.
Two shot near George Floyd memorial in south Minneapolis

Two shot near George Floyd memorial in south Minneapolis

Two people were shot Sunday night near the George Floyd memorial site in south Minneapolis, police said.Minneapolis police received a report of a shooting near…
The cover of Larry Watson’s “Montana 1948”

Henry Sibley High School stops teaching two books after complaints

Administrators directed teachers to stop lessons on "Of Mice and Men" and "Montana 1948."
Jonathan Aurand of Minneapolis battled wind, drifting snow and below zero temps while clearing the sidewalk Thursday in south Minneapolis.

Winter storm delivered both white Christmas and bitter cold

Some icy patches remained on the roads Thursday. With subzero temperatures and windchills of as low as -25 degrees, the cold can make road treatments less effective.
PHOTO BY MARA KLECKER • — High school students from Central High School in St. Paul volunteered at the Ramsey Middle School community pantry on We

St. Paul teachers and neighbors deliver groceries and holiday cheer to families in need

This week, a volunteer 'baking brigade' made cookies to give each family.
Cooper Juliar hugged his mother Lisa as she spoke on the phone with one of Cooper's teachers. 


 ]  Shari L. Gross • shari.gross@startribune.com

E-learning comes with added curve for special ed students

Remote learning presents extraordinary challenges for special education students
Staff at PEASE Academy, a recovery high school in Minneapolis, are finding ways to provide virtual support and services for its students, who are at-r

Anoka-Hennepin schools partner with treatment center to help students

A licensed clinical professional helps the district assess and support students using drugs or alcohol.
State officials suspended the liquor license of Boardwalk Bar & Grill in East Grand Forks, Minn., on Sunday, Dec. 13.

200 businesses say they'll reopen this week, defying Walz's shutdown order

Move comes as state suspends liquor license of East Grand Forks bar offering sit-down service
One killed in Eagan; northbound I-35W and Hwy. 55 closed due to accidents on icy roads

One killed in Eagan; northbound I-35W and Hwy. 55 closed due to accidents on icy roads

The NWS advised motorists to slow down.
One killed, one swims to shore after vehicle misses 90-degree turn, plunges into Mississippi River

One killed, one swims to shore after vehicle misses 90-degree turn, plunges into Mississippi River

The driver, 19, was found dead in the vehicle.
Tou-Fu Vang

Lt. Tou-Fu Vang, Lao veteran and Hmong community leader, dies of COVID at 76

A quiet leader, he dedicated his life to public service, both in his native Laos and in the United States.
Former Minnesota Gov. Henry Sibley.

Mendota Heights high school will shed Sibley's name

West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan board voted Monday after months of consideration.
Minneapolis Schools Superintendent Ed Graff addressed the media at the Davis Service Center in May 2018.

Minneapolis schools face challenging financial future, projections show

The district faces challenges from pandemic expenses and declining enrollment.

Fifth state prisoner dies of COVID-19 complications

The man was incarcerated at the state correctional facility in Rush City.

Victim identified in shooting death at Minneapolis apartment

It was the city's 79th homicide so far this year.
“This is an important step in revolutionizing our curriculum and coursework to better serve all of our students,” board Chairwoman Kim Ellison sai

Minneapolis adds ethnic studies to high school graduation requirements

2025 graduates will need course credits exploring cultural identity, history.
Food service assistant Arica Burgess served chicken with potatoes and rolls for lunch at a Minneapolis school in 2017.

Minneapolis schools pushing for more parents to complete free and reduced-price lunch applications

The applications are used to determine some state and federal funding for schools.
Andrea Friederichs, a teacher's aide, helped a student in a group of mostly kindergarten students do her distance learning lesson at Tierra Encantada

Minneapolis schools on track with rollout of redistricting plan

Critics reject timing of Mpls. redistricting plan as too much stress at once.
George Inz got some good air while sledding near Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis in January 2019.

No more snow days for Minneapolis students

District announces that if weather is bad, it'll be a distance learning day.
St. Paul police looking for suspects who struck officers in fleeing vehicle

St. Paul police looking for suspects who struck officers in fleeing vehicle

St. Paul police are looking for the driver and a passenger of a vehicle that fled and struck two officers on Sunday. Around 5:30 p.m.,…
Henry Sibley's role in the U.S.-Dakota War and the country’s largest mass execution has prompted the West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan school dist

School board explores renaming Henry Sibley High in Mendota Heights

Minnesota's first governor established the military commission that led to hangings of 38 Dakota men.
Incumbent Kim Ellison won her race for an at-large seat on the Minneapolis school board.

Incumbent Kim Ellison wins at-large seat as Minneapolis school board candidates focus on equity issues

Voters chose a mix of incumbents and fresh faces to fill four seats up at the polls in Minneapolis.
Mpls. Schools may start bringing more students back to classrooms next month

Mpls. Schools may start bringing more students back to classrooms next month

The plan would provide struggling students with optional help from teachers at school, starting gradually during the second quarter.
Tierra Encantada, a Spanish immersion daycare and preschool, is helping about 55 kids in kindergarten and first grades with their distance learning fr

Language immersion teachers work to replicate bilingual experience online for Minnesota students

In an unusual year, immersion programs are offering new ways for students to practice languages.
Dr. Jill Biden made three stops in the Twin Cities on Saturday, October 3, 2020, including Utepils Brewery in Minneapolis. She returns to the state th

Jill Biden will visit Rochester this week with Harris spouse Doug Emhoff

Jill Biden, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, will again visit Minnesota. She and Doug Emhoff, the husband of vice presidential candidate Kamala…
Lisa Larson read a book to her students on the first day of in-person class at Piedmont Elementary School in Duluth in September. Teachers are adjusti

Minnesota schools face challenges of counting students from afar

With funding determined by enrollment, districts need to make sure remote and hybrid learners are accurately counted.
State Supreme Court Justice Sandy Keith in 1992.

Sandy Keith, former Minnesota Supreme Court chief justice, dies

Alexander MacDonald "Sandy" Keith dedicated his life to public service and is believed to be the first person to work in roles across all three…
Surly Beer Hall, seen in 2015, will temporarily close after an employee tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.

Surly Beer Hall temporarily closes after employee tests positive for COVID-19

"The hits just keep on coming," the brewery said in a Facebook post.
Running for the Minneapolis school board at-large seat on the ballot this year are incumbent Kim Ellison and Michael Dueñes.

Candidates for Minneapolis school board push for equity in education

Battle over comprehensive plan drives some races.
Rosemount Elementary second-grade children of essential workers tackled assignments or art with the help of Jess Horn, left, and Mary Paulus.

School districts with emergency child care face demand, staff changes

State tries to help with new guidance on who qualifies for free day care at schools.
Students do school work at learning pods in a pilot program at Harold Mezile North Community YMCA in Minneapolis on Sept. 22, 2020.

New community 'learning pods' aim to bridge achievement gap, address racial equity in Twin Cities

The pods have financial backing from multiple corporations.
A Sheriff's Department boat began the search for a missing plane in the water off Grey Cloud Island late Sunday night.

Crews recovering downed plane in Mississippi River in SE metro

The search took place near Grey Cloud Island. Few other details were immediately available.
George Floyd's sister Bridgett Floyd spoke at the March on Washington on Aug. 28 as the Rev. Al Sharpton looked on. Bridgett Floyd and other family me

George Floyd Memorial Foundation launches, gives first donation

Nonprofit will focus on social justice and systemic racism.
Theodocia “Teddy” Bergstrom

Theodocia 'Teddy' Bergstrom, mother and humble volunteer, dies at 91

Theodocia "Teddy" Bergstrom probably wouldn't want her loved ones to list all the places she volunteered, the many ways she proved herself a servant in…
Twin Cities nonprofit helps men be better caregivers

Twin Cities nonprofit helps men be better caregivers

Nonprofit offers men support as they care for loved ones with cancer.
It was back to school for some students at Harvest Best Academy Tuesday in Minneapolis, but with masks, plastic barriers and other new precautions in

At Minneapolis charter school, hybrid model brings students to classroom for online learning

Harvest Best Academy's "learning pod" model aimed at providing space and assistance for students to complete their distance learning.

Minneapolis police opened fire hydrants to deter drag racing on Sunday night

Some of the drivers were also spinning the tires on their vehicles.
Education Minnesota President Denise Specht, shown in 2013.

Educators, teachers union leaders discuss concerns about reopening schools

Education Minnesota hosted a news conference Tuesday to call for equitable plans for the year.
Social studies teacher Corey Smith, left, helped Madison Kvam find her first classroom Monday as Farmington High School freshman arrived at school wit

Some Minnesota schools host connection days to kick off unusual year

Farmington, South Washington County schools ease into learning with orientations.
Katie Falk, a first-year kindergarten teacher at Lake Harriet Lower Community School, sat in the little section of her classroom where she has set up

First-year teachers prepare for school year amid pandemic

Instead of creating fun name tags for the kindergartners in her class, first-year teacher Katie Falk is compiling e-mail addresses to communicate with those students’…

Man fatally shot in Minneapolis on Thursday is identified

Andrew DeJon Davis, 29, died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Minnesota Transitions Charter School will open a temporary site at the Mall of America.

Minnesota Transitions Charter School to open temporary school at Mall of America

Its district offices and secondary school in south Minneapolis were destroyed in the riots following George Floyd's death last spring.
Toussaint Morrison spoke to more than 100 Black Lives Matter protesters as they rallied outside the home of Minneapolis Police Federation president Bo

GOP calls DFL candidate's comments at Hugo protest 'reprehensible'

Protest at police union chief's house included loud profanity.
The Minneapolis school board, shown discussing school resource officers with students.

Kim Ellison, three newcomers advance for two Minneapolis school board seats

The incumbent Ellison and first-time candidate Michael Dueñes will face off in the general election for the at-large seat.

Sunday storm brought egg-sized hail to south metro

Chanhassen and Victoria were the hardest hit.

Children who fell in Gooseberry Falls recovering at home

Their mom said Sunday that her children "received a miracle."
As families prepare for the uncertainty of the school year, many are looking to learning pods. Katy and Carlos Armendariz, at back right, are looking

Minnesota parents rushing to set up distance-learning pods

The groups may help some families but also raise questions about educational equity.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott greeted officers Josh Whittenburg and Alicia Johnson before Elliott's inauguration in 2019. The Joint Community Pol

2 diverse north metro suburbs stand out as police reform model

As Twin Cities suburbs look for ways to foster trust between law enforcement officers and communities of color in the wake of George Floyd's death, some are looking to a long-standing model that began years ago in the north metro.

Thousands attended northern Minnesota rodeo, despite crowd restrictions

Despite orders to limit crowds, the stands remained full or nearly full for the three days of the 65th annual North Star Stampede Rodeo in…
A pre-calculus class at Apple Valley High School. Teachers said they were most concerned about building relationships with students and wanted to do t

Minn. teachers hope to return to classroom but worry about safety from COVID

Minnesota teachers are concerned about continuing distance learning this fall but also worry about the safety of returning to in-person classes, according to a statewide survey by the University of Minnesota. Their concerns about distance learning include engaging students, meeting the needs of special education students and ensuring student access to technology.
The school board is expected to officially give Earle Brown Elementary a new name, Brooklyn Center Elementary, this week.

Brooklyn Center may remove former sheriff's name from city sites

One historian says the former Hennepin County sheriff once belonged to the Ku Klux Klan.
Elizabeth Larson, age 2, with signs of mosquito bites around her eyes.

St. Paul Park couple launch petition to save their kids from bigger-than-average mosquito swarms

A property owned by the Washington County Community Development Agency is an overgrown breeding ground, the couple say.

Woman in car shot and killed in Mpls., 3-year-old hurt by glass

A woman was shot and killed Saturday night in a car with a 3-year-old child in it, police said.The woman's death is being investigated as…

Minneapolis man arrested in Chicago on charges of fatally shooting pregnant woman

A Minneapolis man charged with fatally shooting a woman who was pregnant with their child has been arrested in Chicago, authorities said.Zachary V. Robinson, 27,…

Seeds of Change effort brings Black Lives Matter art to downtown Edina

The installation by student and professional artists will be on display at 50th and France.
Busse

Bloomington to require masks in city buildings, encourage mask wearing elsewhere in city

They will be mandatory in city buildings; mayor hopes for state order instead of "patchwork" of city rules.
Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, seen at a news conference in April, said in a video released Sunday, July 5, that he is under investigation by the Minnes

GOP legislator under scrutiny over COVID-19 comments

In a video released Sunday, Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, said the state Medical Practice Board is focused on two allegations: spreading misinformation about the death toll and providing "reckless advice" by comparing COVID-19 with the flu.