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‘Restorative justice’ brings closure to Hopkins High School racial insensitivity dispute

Jun 11, 2013

From the article in the Golden Valley Patch: 

Prosecutors have dropped misdemeanor charges against two Hopkins High School students who protested alleged racial insensitivity at the school, and the district has overturned the students’ suspensions, according to a joint statement from the school district and the students' attorney.

The actions follow a “restorative justice” process initiated to bring closure to a February confrontation between black students and school officials that led to a student walkout in May.

On Feb. 13, Hopkins ski team members dressed up for what they told officials they called “rapper day.” Black students said the ski team members actually called it "ghetto spirit day." The black students complained to school administrators, but school officials said it was too late in the day to do anything.
 
Several black students made posters protesting the school’s actions. Administrators took down the posters because they were not brought to the school office beforehand for approval.
 
The next day, two black students went to the assistant principal’s office and tried to take the posters back. Officials called a Minnetonka Police officer who works in the school, and a police report states one of the students put his hand on the officer’s chest and tried to leave with the posters.
 
In May, 150 students walked out to protest what they saw as unfair treatment of minority students.
 
...The district subsequently agreed to participate in a restorative justice project that included Superintendent John Schultz, Hopkins High School Principal Patty Johnson, the associate principal and the two black students.
 
The students said they didn’t intentionally disrespect school staff and that they just tried to stand up for what they believed was right. The school officials expressed their “commitment to making Hopkins High School a welcoming educational environment for all students.”
 
“For all involved, the restorative justice process was a step in the right direction to promote healing and understanding,” the release stated.
 
“In the spirit of equity,” the district overturned the suspension. Criminal charges were also dropped.
 
“The high school will continue its work around cultural competency and issues of racial bias,” the release stated. “While there is work to do, the students felt that progress had been made and appreciated the opportunity to share their perspectives. All of the participants agreed to continue to work together on these issues.” 
 
Read the full article.

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