White Bear Lake Area Schools community,
Yesterday (April 13), we issued a statement and used a word that we deeply regret. We appreciate the students and parents who have shared their reaction to the word “hoax.” We sincerely apologize for the use of that term. In no way do we want to minimize the impact that racism or racist acts has on students and families who have been marginalized throughout history and in White Bear Lake Area Schools. We commit to doing better in the future, as we realize the heartfelt pain that families have shared after reading the statement.
Our school community is continuing to work through the impact of the hurtful and racist posts circulated on social media last week. Our attention is focused on the everyday racism people of color experience in our society, and thus in our schools, every day. The recent incidents have caused a lot of hurt, and our community and leadership team are committed to working together with our students and families toward a safe and respectful culture. We are learning as a community, and we are committed to supporting our students, staff and community in difficult conversations and reflection.
Today (April 14), the White Bear Lake City Manager’s Office released a statement on the ongoing investigation. Their update includes the following finding: A juvenile female created the social media account and posted the content. This behavior is a violation of our school district policies and code of conduct related to bullying and harassment. The District will be pursuing disciplinary actions as outlined in school district policy, which will include a recommendation for expulsion for the individual(s) involved with the social media posts.
The City Manager’s report further stated, “The juvenile involved indicated during the investigation that the purpose of their post was to raise awareness of social and racial injustice due to past incidents that occurred at school. We shared this information with the school district and added that the investigating officers believe the juvenile does not pose a physical threat. Nevertheless, the postings have caused tangible fear and alarm throughout our community.”
A feeling of safety is fundamental for learning in our schools. We know that right now some students do not feel safe, and we have to focus on student safety and belonging in our schools. We have an opportunity as a school and a community to come together and acknowledge the harmful impact of racism in our society and the fear that it causes. We must work toward positive societal change. Our district is committed to equity work, and we recognize it will take listening, empathy and community engagement to move forward.
Following an Equity Audit in July, we have an Equity Action Plan and will accelerate implementation. We are committed to:
Curriculum that is culturally and racially inclusive
Providing professional development to Board members, leaders, teachers and staff members
The creation of a Hate Speech policy
Working with Equity Alliance Minnesota to provide training around race and race-related incidents
Listening, learning and checking our biases while engaging multiple perspectives in making our schools equitable and inclusive environments
We encourage all families and staff to continue to report concerns, reflect on our goals and let us know how you wish to engage in this important work. Only working together can we achieve our mission for every student.
Following is the complete statement released by the White Bear Lake City Manager’s office today:
There have been additional questions following the release of a statement yesterday afternoon by the White Bear Lake School District related to the status of an active investigation involving an Instagram posting that included racially charged threats directed toward students of color. The intent of this statement is to provide as much clarity as possible as we balance the community’s desire for information against our duty to complete a thorough investigation.
With the assistance of the FBI, a juvenile female has been identified as the creator of this anonymous account. It has not yet been determined whether additional individuals contributed to the content of the postings associated with this account. Although the investigation is on-going, it is important that the information we have at this time be shared to help ease fears associated with this particular incident.
The juvenile involved indicated during the investigation that the purpose of their post was to raise awareness of social and racial injustice due to past incidents that occurred at school. We shared this information with the school district and added that the investigating officers believe the juvenile does not pose a physical threat. Nevertheless, the postings have caused tangible fear and alarm throughout our community. It is critical to acknowledge the importance of these conversations related to racial equity and justice affixed to this incident, and to commit to on-going dialogue that leads to meaningful outcomes.
We recognize racism has been present in our district and denounce racism. We know there has been past hurt to our students due to racism, and we take this seriously. We currently have actions in place, and we will continue to accelerate our work to foster an atmosphere free of racism. This is not only our commitment to our students, it’s our commitment to our internal and external community.
We are committed to continuing to work together as we create an environment in which all of our students feel heard and welcomed.
Thank you again for your partnership in supporting our students,
Wayne Kazmierczak, Superintendent