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Update: Maple Grove Senior High, School District Concludes Racial Graffiti Incident Investigation

Nov 10, 2016 07:21AM ● Published by Wendy Erlien

Maple Grove Senior High (photo by Wendy Erlien / Maple Grove Voice)

Updated article Nov. 22 

Several weeks after a Nov. 9 racist graffiti incident at Maple Grove Senior High (see original article below), Superintendent Kate Maguire provided an update on the incident investigation to Osseo Area Schools families on Nov. 21. 

In the letter, in part, she wrote: 

"I’m pleased to tell you that school administrators have concluded their investigation, which was one of the most comprehensive and exhaustive investigations Maple Grove Senior High staff has ever conducted. They have identified the individual who they have determined wrote the messages and they have taken appropriate disciplinary action, according to school board policy. 

I am aware that some of you would like to know exactly what type of discipline was applied. I hope you will understand we are required by law to protect the privacy of the individual who has been identified so we cannot provide details about discipline for individual students. What I can tell you is that board policy allows for a range of consequences that enable administrators to apply discipline according to the seriousness of any situation -- and we found this to be an extremely serious incident. That is all I can say about discipline related to this situation. 

The school district has collaborated with the Maple Grove Police Department on this incident, which remains under separate investigation by police."

Maguire continued her letter, identifying several "short-term and long-term actions to promote conversations about race and ensure a safe learning and work environment" with students, families, staff, and community members. 

You can read Maguire's entire letter on the ISD 279 website here.    

Original article Nov. 11 

In response to what was referred to on the Maple Grove Senior High website as a “serious and disturbing racist message” found in a Maple Grove Senior High restroom Nov. 9, Principal Bart Becker sent a letter to Maple Grove Senior High staff and families Wednesday.

In the letter, Becker stated, “I am horrified by this action, which goes against everything for which our school stands; it is completely contrary to our core values, both as a school and as a district.”

An investigation was “immediately” launched, according to Becker, who stated “we will take swift and appropriate action based on the investigation findings.”  

“We will work very hard to identify who did this horrible act and determine how we can support the students and staff who have been affected by it,” he wrote. 

Maple Grove Senior High Principal Becker continued by writing in the letter:

“A safe and healthy learning environment is an essential characteristic of effective schools, and every day at Maple Grove Senior High we seek to provide a safe and respectful learning and working environment for every student and employee. Racist messages like the one found in our school endanger the safety of our students and staff of color, and create a climate that is not conducive to learning.

We are very concerned about our students, staff and families who have been affected by this incident. I want to assure every student and employee that we are committed to their safety and well-being.  

This incident is additional evidence of the pressing need in our schools, our community and our nation to find ways to talk about race constructively and respectfully. Over the past several years, we have been learning and practicing language that helps us engage in these conversations when we need them most, in order to interrupt racism. I know that placing student voice at the center will be essential in our efforts to address this terrible event and to help students feel safe and secure at our school.

I want to you to know that I am determined to provide a safe and respectful learning environment for all students and staff at our school. We will now work to identify additional measures we can take to support that goal.”

As of Nov. 10, read the full letter by clicking here.  

"We will be working closely with the school to try and identify who wrote the offensive remarks on school property at the Maple Grove Senior High," Maple Grove Police Captain Adam Lindquist wrote in an email to Maple Grove Voice.

"We will work to heal the negative impact that this incident has had on school culture and climate, and on every member of our school family," ISD 279 School/Community Relations Director Barb Olson said, in addition to reiterating comments from Becker's letter.

Several students and staff reacted to the incident Wednesday evening, sharing a message on Twitter, which included inviting others to gather before school on Thursday “to make students feel safe among our Crimson family.” Their statement continued, “We need to come together as a student body to ensure all are protected and welcome at our school.”

Updated 10:20 a.m. Nov. 10

The following statement was made by the Maple Grove Police Department around 9 a.m. Nov. 10:

"Maple Grove Police Detectives took a report of a racist message written in the Maple Grove Senior High school bathroom. The message was written during the school day on November 9, 2016. Maple Grove Senior High School leaders immediately launched an investigation into the incident and are working collaboratively with the Maple Grove Police Department. This type of behavior is highly offensive, will not be tolerated and does not reflect the views of the Maple Grove community. Independent School District 279 and the Maple Grove Police Department have a long standing relationship to address public safety and service needs.

This is an active investigation. Please have patience as we work through this challenging process."

Updated 10:14 p.m. Nov. 10

On Thursday evening, ISD 279 - Osseo Area Schools released a letter written by Superintendent Kate Maguire to address action the school district to taking to "ensure equitable student achievement and to maintain a safe and respectful learning and work environment."

"While I am horrified by yesterday’s incident, I am determined to continue our work to create safe and respectful school communities where we can have productive conversations about race and honor multiple perspectives. I know that we have much to learn and much to do," Maguire stated, in part, in her two-page letter. Click here to read her full open letter to the Osseo Area Schools community.

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