Wangster suit settled for $90kAlmost exactly one year after former student Quera Pruitt filed a federal lawsuit against Red Wing School District claiming racial discrimination, the parties settled out of court. Pruitt will receive $90,000, according to the agreement filed July 24.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
Almost exactly one year after former student Quera Pruitt filed a federal lawsuit against Red Wing School District claiming racial discrimination, the parties settled out of court.
Pruitt will receive $90,000, according to the agreement filed July 24. In addition, the school district and Red Wing High School Principal Beth Borgen continue to deny that they discriminated against Pruitt or violated her rights.
“The parties desire to forgo the cost and expense of further litigation and resolve any and all disputes between them,” the agreement states.
The settlement also bars Pruitt from suing the school in the future over the “Wangster Day” or “Wigger Day” incident and releases the district from liability for any “known and unknown” injuries and damages. Pruitt also acknowledges that the settlement is not an admission of any wrongdoing by the district.
The funds for the settlement will come from the Netherlands Insurance Co. on behalf of the district.
Pruitt, who is black, filed the suit in federal court July 29, 2011, claiming that the district violated her civil rights during the school’s homecoming week in 2009.
The student council had decided that Sept. 30, 2009, was to be “Tropical Day,” but about 60 to 70 students came to school wearing stereotypical black or gangster clothing. Pruitt said in her original complaint that the district knew that students typically dress this way on the Wednesday of the Wingers’ homecoming week, but did nothing to stop it.
Pruitt also said that the incident caused emotional distress, and she asked for an amount exceeding $75,000 for damages.
The Red Wing School Board voted 5-1 in a special meeting July 11 to resolve the lawsuit, with Board member Steve Anderson opposing and Board member Mike Christensen absent. Details of the proposed settlement were not disclosed at that time.
U.S. District Court Judge David Doty accepted the settlement July 31.
“I’m just glad it had a favorable ending,” Maxine Pruitt, Quera’s mother, said Friday. “Sometimes you have to do things to make people aware that the things they do are hurtful to other people.”
Maxine Pruitt also had filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights in November 2009. That complaint resulted in the OCR issuing a two-year plan for the district that included changing policies and procedures on harassment.
“I’m glad that we got things changed at the school for all the children,” Maxine Pruitt said. “That was my main focus so they wouldn’t be subjected to Wigger Day.”
It’s not clear how the Netherlands Insurance Co. was involved in decisions surrounding settlement.
“The settlement agreement speaks for itself and that’s where I’ll leave the comment for now,” the district’s attorney Morgan Godfrey said Friday.