Black Lives Matter meets with superintendent, won't protest at St. Paul school


The superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools met with leaders of the city's Black Lives Matter chapter Monday and said later she's thankful the group has decided against protesting at Como Park High School.

Valeria Silva said in an emailed statement that she had a "productive and positive conversation" with Rashad Turner and other members of Black Lives Matter St. Paul. Silva wrote that she and the group have a common vision of high expectations for all students and a commitment to racial equity.

Last week Black Lives Matter threatened a "shut down action" at Como Park High. The group objects to comments a teacher at the school, Theodore Olson, made on Facebook.

Olson's comments did not directly reference race, but Turner characterized Olson as a white supremacist teacher and wrote that Black Lives Matter would take action if Olson was not fired.

Turner: Olson will be investigated

In a Facebook post following the meeting with Silva, Black Lives Matter St. Paul wrote that Olson "will be investigated through the district's standard procedures."

The group says it expects the investigation to lead to Olson's termination or resignation. Their statement also likens Olson's case to that of St. Paul Police Sgt. Jeffrey Rothecker. Rothecker apologized and ultimately resigned from the police department after acknowledging a Facebook comment in which he encouraged motorists to run over Black Lives Matter protesters and offered tips on how they might do so without being arrested.

Olson's comments

In Olson's case, his posts came in the context of an effort by St. Paul Public Schools to reduce a racial disparity in suspensions.

The Pioneer Press reports that in the last school year 14 percent of African-American boys enrolled in the district were suspended at least once, while the same was true for 3.4 percent of white boys and 1.2 percent of Asian-American boys.

Olson is among staff who feel that the move to reduce suspensions has left teachers without the resources to deal with student misbehavior, the newspaper says.

In one of his posts, Olson wrote that there was no place for teachers to send kids "...who won’t quit gaming, setting up fights, selling drugs, whoring trains, or cyber bullying..."

The Pioneer Press says Turner has called Olson's remarks sweeping generalizations about black students.

The statement Silva released after meeting with Turner Monday makes no mention of Olson or any investigation.

Next Up