A walkout this week by hundreds of students decrying a "sexual assault culture" at Highland Park Senior High School in St. Paul has led to quick action and contrition from the school's leader.
"I want to apologize that as your principal it got to the point at which a walkout had to occur before students felt like they're being heard," Principal Winston Tucker told students Tuesday in an address over the school's intercom.
He said he met that day with students and had a "powerful, open and honest discussion" about what needs to be done to rebuild trust, adding that he will have staff members undergo training on how to identify and report sexual harassment.
The specifics of what will be taught will be guided by students, counselors, social workers and administrators, he said.
Lead organizers of Monday's walkout and march said Thursday that Tucker met their demands for a "genuine apology accompanied by a plan of action."
But they said other issues still must be addressed.
"We are focusing on encouraging systemic change, and the fight will not be over anytime soon," the students said in an e-mail. The group includes Latrese Johnson, Sarah VonBerge and Jerome Treadwell.
A week before the protest, students circulated a petition alleging in part that a Highland Park teacher and coach "targeted students." His actions were described in subsequent Instagram posts as harassing behavior, including inappropriate comments about girls' bodies.
Students on Monday also described assaults committed by other students.
Tucker told students he understood concerns about a perceived lack of trust and transparency over such issues, but he said he was bound by the limitations of the state's data practices act protecting the privacy of students and staff members.
"I'm only allowed to share so much," he said.
The teacher identified in the petition remains employed by the district, spokesman Kevin Burns said this week. He was hired in August 2000 and has no discipline in his file, Burns added.
Tucker said in a letter to community members he also has contacted St. Paul-Ramsey County Public Health to help educate students about consent and healthy relationships.