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Discussion of homecoming events continues

The suspension of 14 students for events that occurred at the start of Red Wing High School Homecoming week is a topic which continues to draw attention.

Lin Nelson, a parent of one of the suspended students, spoke to the School Board Monday night.

Up until the point of these students’ suspension, Nelson said, she thought Red Wing High School and the school district had the students’ best interest in mind.

“Certainly it is not within their best interest to suspend them for two to five days for what they do best. And that is to show their school spirit,” Nelson said.

Nelson said the students were decorating the school for National Pride Day and they were only showing their school pride and their school spirit.

“We felt the actions taken by the administration were arbitrary and egregious and contrary to the district’s own policies and procedures that were put together.”

Supt. Karsten Anderson said typically when public comment is made at a meeting he confers with School Board Chair Heidi Jones as to how the issue should be addressed.

The School Board is used as more of an accountability piece to the actions of administration and the district, Anderson said.

“It’s not our role to interfere in student disciplinary action, that’s the administrative role or the policy makers,” Jones said. “Our jobs here tonight were to receive your concerns and then to put them back into the administrators’ hands.”

Anderson said he is in the process of reviewing the issue and hopes to have it completed by this week.

“I’m not aware of School Board action that would impose discipline or reverse discipline unless it has to do with an expulsion,” Anderson said.

Nelson said the parents of the students were surprised at the reasoning provided for the suspensions.

“We’re were shocked to see the grounds for suspension to action was vandalism and the grounds for suspension were willful conduct that endangers the pupil or other pupils or surrounding persons including school district employees or property of the school and willful conduct that significantly disrupts the rights of others to an education or the ability of the school to perform their duties or school sponsored extracurricular activities,” she said.

Nothing the students did could be construed as anything close to this, Nelson said.

The students offered to clean up the doors and were willing to make up for the unintended consequences of their actions, Nelson said.

“There have been attempts by school staff and community members to clean off the doors and some of the writings did clean off,” Anderson said.

However, he said there are four to six doors where the writing will not come off.

“We’ve tried several different cleaners and it just isn’t working. It either doesn’t remove the substance from the door or it does remove it and it takes off the paint as well,” Anderson said.

Nelson said all of the students involved are in the process of applying to colleges, and applying for scholarships, which they have worked for their entire school careers.

“We’re all logical people here. We all have the kids’ best interest in mind and we don’t want these 14 bright, talented teenagers to have life-long goals to be marred for a simple activity which they thought of as school spirit,” Nelson said.

As soon as Anderson is done reviewing the issue he said he will contact the parents of the students involved.

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


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