Staff Directory 6370436

Mara Klecker

Reporter | Washington County
Phone: 612-673-4440

Mara Klecker covers Minneapolis K-12 schools for the Star Tribune. She previously reported on the suburbs of the Twin Cities. Before coming to the Star Tribune, she was the social services reporter at 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
A citywide survey of 4,182 residents ranked five suggested names to replace Henry Sibley.

Mendota Heights' Henry Sibley High gets new name

The new name of the school will be Two Rivers after a citywide survey offered more than 200 possible choices.
Authorities ID man who was struck and killed in Brooklyn Park on Friday

Authorities ID man who was struck and killed in Brooklyn Park on Friday

A 21-year old man was killed; the driver remained at the scene.
About .4 inch of rain was recorded at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Sunday.

After much-needed rain, cooler temperatures are in the forecast

Like much of the state, the Twin Cities has seen much less rain than normal this month.
Minneapolis Public Schools approves budget

Minneapolis Public Schools approves budget

It's for the 2021-2022 school year.
Rahma Yusuf valedictorian for the 2021 North Community High School celebrates as classmates are names are called to receive their diplomas . Jerry Hol

Seniors from Minneapolis North Community High School celebrate graduation after challenging year

Their final high school years came a pandemic and a racial reckoning.
First-grader Kevin Nielson rubbed an ice cube on his lips in his un-air-conditioned classroom at Hiawatha Elementary in 2013. Hiawatha is one of 15 Mi

Heat prompts some Minneapolis schools to move to distance learning

Fifteen schools will go to distance learning from Tuesday to Thursday.
Vanessa Jensen, 19, was one of two people struck by stray bullets while watching an illegal street race in Minneapolis on Saturday, June 5.

Mom warned daughter to avoid street race where she was shot

Vanessa Jensen, 19, was one of two people struck by stray bullets while watching illegal street racing in Minneapolis on Saturday. The other victim has not been identified.
After working on an anthem for their school for more than a year, students at Anthony Middle School  were finally able to practice together last week.

Mpls. students emerge from pandemic with rousing new anthems

A student's curiosity about why Anthony Middle School didn't have its own anthem launched a project that would carry a Minneapolis band teacher and her students through an especially challenging year.
Baltimore man killed after being struck by a car in Bloomington is identified

Baltimore man killed after being struck by a car in Bloomington is identified

The Baltimore man who was killed after he got out of his car on Hwy. 169 in Bloomington early Saturday has been identified as Mapach…
Woman arrested in connection with fatal Minneapolis hit-and-run

Woman arrested in connection with fatal Minneapolis hit-and-run

A 20-year-old St. Paul woman was arrested Sunday in connection with a fatal hit-and-run in Minneapolis on Friday.Police responded to report of a crash in…
Principal Anne Gattman took students’ temperatures as they arrived at St. Jerome School in Maplewood.

How the pandemic forever altered education in Minnesota

Academics collided with life challenges, but there were some triumphs — and many see more hope ahead.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, seen at a May 19 vigil for Aniya Allen, said the city has asked state and federal agencies for assistance responding to

Mpls. to bring in outside help to deal with surge in violence

Minneapolis police are bringing in outside help as they try to temper weekend violence that killed a least four people, including a college senior who was out celebrating graduation.
The Minneapolis teachers union is asking the school district to let more students participate in graduation ceremonies this year, even if they are sho

Minneapolis teachers union pushes for credit-shy students to participate in graduation

A petition asks the district to include students missing more credits than usual.
The Minneapolis school board on Tuesday night reviewed a proposed budget for next year, the first year the district’s sweeping comprehensive redesig

Minneapolis schools' proposed budget is balanced with federal funds

But Mpls. board did not include funding from the American Rescue Plan.
This file photo from 2017 shows a class at Green Central Elementary, one of the Minneapolis schools likely to see more racial and economic integration

Minneapolis schools add 2nd lottery for more integration at magnet schools

The results of the lotteries show progress toward one of the main goals of the district's redesign.
Katie Wright (center) surrounded by supporters marched from 63rd and Katherine drive to the Brooklyn Center Police departing , demanding justice for h

Hundreds follow Daunte Wright's family in a march through Brooklyn Center

Group wants police reform, more serious charges against officer.
A spokesman for Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport said the baggage conveyer belt a boy climbed onto Saturday was “very difficult to get int

Boy, 9, safe after trip on baggage conveyor at Twin Cities airport

A 9-year-old boy was uninjured on Saturday after climbing onto a conveyor belt used for baggage at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.The boy, left a…
FILE - In this May 16, 2012, file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad.

Big Lake schools respond to photo of racist prom proposal

The school district said in a statement that it is aware of the Facebook post, is evaluating it "and will take whatever action is necessary and appropriate to address the situation."
Damen Adams Jr., 13, left, a Plymouth Middle School student, was reunited with his father Damen Adams Sr., after a student fired gunshots on Monday, A

Plymouth sixth-grader fires gun in school; no one hurt, police say

A school resource officer apprehended the student. The boy took the gun from his home and took it to school, his father said. The school was on lockdown until about noon.
The Moorhead Police Department released this photo of a suspect.

Moorhead police investigating vandalism, hate messages at mosque

Several spray-painted messages were found on the building Sunday morning.
camaraderie with the kids Shaun Ross and other school support liaisons like to mingle with students during class breaks in an effort to build relation

In some Minnesota schools, students return but police do not

In some districts, armed officers have been replaced by "support liaisons" who hope to put a new face on safety
The Rev. William “Bill” E. Green Sr.

Rev. William Green Sr., advocate for educational opportunity, dies at 66

The Rev. William "Bill" E. Green Sr. spent his life encouraging others, determined to help people understand the opportunities available to them, regardless of the…
Protesters including Damik Wright, far left, the brother of Daunte Wright attended a rally in front of the governor’s residence and proceeded to mar

Hundreds gather for peaceful rally in St. Paul

In Brookyn Center meanwhile, Mayor Mike Elliott declared a citywide curfew starting at 11 p.m. Sunday and extending until 6 a.m. Monday.
MNDOT traffic cameras showed smoke coming from the Lowry Tunnel after a fatal crash on westbound Interstate 94 on Sunday, April 18.

One dead in fiery Lowry tunnel crash, closing westbound I-94

The State Patrol is investigating a fatal crash Sunday night on westbound Interstate 94 in the Lowry Hill tunnel in Minneapolis.A video posted to…
Seniors from various Twin Cities area high schools were celebrated during a drive-in graduation ceremony for graduates with ties to Shiloh Temple on J

Minneapolis, St. Paul schools plan for in-person graduation ceremonies

Mpls. high school seniors will graduate in person, but with COVID-19 safety compromises.
Angela Johnson, who lives across the street from the Brooklyn Center Police Department, watches the chaos from her window Wednesday night.

'Terrorizing': Brooklyn Center residents rattled by clashes, tear gas

Those living in the apartments near the scene of the Brooklyn Center protests have found bright green marking rounds and gas canisters on their balconies after sleepless nights.
Daunte Wright. Photo provided by family.

Violence flares after police shoot, kill Black man in Brooklyn Center

The fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, 20, during a Brooklyn Center traffic stop Sunday led to protests and looting that spilled over to Minneapolis. National Guard troops arrived just before midnight as several businesses around a Walmart were completely destroyed, including Foot Locker, T-Mobile and a men's clothing store.
Wellstone International High School Principal Christian Ledesma, right, greeted students with a foot bump as they returned to in-person classes Monday

Minneapolis high school students head back to classrooms

Minneapolis reopened its high schools Monday after more than a year of distance learning for secondary students.
This file photo shows an ITT Technical Institute campus in California. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Ellison calls for debt forgiveness for students defrauded by for-profit college

The effort aims to help students who attended ITT Technical Institute.
“We know that students feel uncertain and they have questions, especially about their future,” said Derek Francis, left, the district’s manager

Minneapolis schools offer week of virtual events about career, college options

The events aim to help students make future plans at an uncertain time.
A flock of green-winged teal prepared for a landing at Long Meadow Lake in Bloomington on March 22. The NWS has issued a red flag warning for extreme

Low humidity and wind combine for fire danger in Minnesota today

NWS has issued a red flag warning.
Minneapolis and St. Paul prepare for older students' return to class

Minneapolis and St. Paul prepare for older students' return to class

Both districts will offer in-person learning four days a week.
Parkview Center School, a K-8 school in Roseville. The logistics of administering the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, or MCAs, during the pandemi

Minnesota schools prepare for in-person standardized tests

Standardized tests are back after one-year hiatus, but schools face challenges administering them.
Parts of southern Minnesota could get 5 to 8 inches of snow

Parts of southern Minnesota could get 5 to 8 inches of snow

NWS says it won't be sticking around.
Makyla Davis, 13, sat in a vacant cubical as she took part in a virtual social studies class Wednesday. ] ANTHONY SOUFFLE • anthony.souffle@startrib

Community learning pods aim to meet shifting needs as Minnesota schools return to class

The Hope Youth Center wants to continue as a community center.
A rally was held in downtown Minneapolis on Sunday, March 7, one day before jury selection begins in the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin in the

Hundreds march in downtown Minneapolis on eve of Chauvin trial

The march came one day before jury selection is set to begin in the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, who is accused of killing George Floyd last May.
About a dozen cars went off the tracks at Northwest Boulevard near Schmidt Lake Road in Plymouth around 1 p.m. on Sunday.

No injuries from train derailment in Plymouth

Twenty-two train cars derailed on Sunday, leaving the cars strewn along the tracks in a wooded area of Plymouth.According to the city's public safety department,…
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.,…