St. Paul schools suspend staffer for racist language

Words uttered in video taken at Highland Park Middle School

WCCO Radio Newsroom
May 10, 2019 - 4:59 am
Sign of Saint Paul

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A St. Paul public school staffer is disciplined after a video that includes a troubling conversation makes the rounds on social media.

The staffer is an employee at Highland Park Middle School.

The blurry video is about 20 seconds long and shows a small group of people talking in a hallway, their faces not in the shot.

A woman's voice is heard.

"I just walk around the room. I just pick on them. ’Cause they’re black. And they’re the only (***) (***) doing any work."

The last statement includes an expletive and a racist word.

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After that, an expletive and racist word is used, there's an apology, and one person leaves the area.

St. Paul public school superintendent Joe Gothard posted his own video on the district website, saying he and others were disturbed by the racist language.

  • I am writing to address a disturbing video taken at Highland Park Middle that was shared on social media. No matter the situation, the racist and foul language used by a staff member in the video has no place in Saint Paul Public Schools. The staff member is currently on administrative leave – which is standard practice – pending the outcome of a district review. We will work to understand what happened and take immediate, aggressive action to address this situation. Highland Park Middle School strives to provide a safe, respectful and welcoming environment for every single child -- and as educators, we must be held to the highest possible standard. The words and actions recorded in this video have caused harm to our Black students, their families and our entire school community. These actions go against Saint Paul Public Schools core values and its commitment to serving youth and families. We will not be silent in the face of racist language in our schools -- and we cannot perpetuate it. We will not make excuses for actions that hurt the students that we as educators have dedicated our lives to serve. Following this incident, we have a lot of work to do to repair harm and rebuild trust with our students and our community. We take that responsibility seriously. We offer a sincere apology for the actions that took place in our building on Wednesday.  Thank you for supporting your child and Saint Paul Public Schools.
    Sincerely,
  • Joe Gothard, Superintendent                             Char Hoff, Principal
  • Saint Paul Public Schools                                 Highland Park Middle School

Gothard apologized and says they've taken immediate, aggressive action.

The text of the statement is also on the district's website, and is signed by Gothard and Highland Park Middle School Principal Char Hoff.

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