Skip to main content

Office for Civil Rights coming to St. Cloud in wake of school bullying allegations


Officials with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights will be in St. Cloud next week, after recent reports of bullying targeting local Somali students.

Administrators and students will meet with officials starting next week, the Star Tribune reports.

The St. Cloud Times describes it as "an effort to further understand what may be happening" at the district's Tech and Apollo high schools.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a statement following the announcement, saying it welcomes the Office for Civil Rights' upcoming presence.

What's driving the office's visit is reports of bullying and harassment, specifically targeted at the schools' Somali students.

But there are a couple rounds of incidents at play here.

2015 cases

The most recent round involves a string of reported bullying incidents targeting Somalis. In March, about 100 students walked out of St. Cloud Technical High School in protest, fueled by a social media post that portrayed a Somali student as being part of the Islamic State militant group.

A second walk-out followed, and at the end of March, community leaders there met with education officials in hopes of resolving outstanding tensions.

2009-10 cases

But those incidents actually come in the still-rippling wake of earlier allegations of racial issues in the school district.

In the 2009-10 school year, CAIR-MN asked the Office for Civil Rights to investigate claims that non-Somali students are harassing and bullying Somali students, The Associated Press reported. The findings determined school officials responded appropriately to the claims, but still said the school district needed to better welcome Somali students.

It led to a settlement between the district and Office for Civil Rights (which you can read here), which says the district "will take all steps necessary" to ensure its students aren't targets of hostility based on race, color or national origin.

The settlement agreement will not be over until the Office of Civil Rights decides the district "fulfilled the terms" laid out.

CAIR says it hasn't been closed yet.

So what's happening now?

Office for Civil Rights officials are once again returning to St. Cloud. Though it's not exactly clear whether the visit is specifically to investigate the most recent allegations.

A Department of Education spokesperson told MPR News they're "monitoring" that agreement signed in 2011, and that the case has not been reopened.

St. Cloud schools spokesperson Tami DeLand told the St. Cloud Times district officials have not been told a new investigation is being opened by the Office for Civil Rights, but says the federal department's visit is continued monitoring that's part of the 2011 agreement.

CAIR-MN however describes it as a "renewed investigation."

Next Up

Angela Renee Jones, St. Cloud murder suspect

St. Cloud suspect now charged in two local murder cases

Both murders happened within a day of each other in June.

st anthony 3 crop

Twin Cities police ask for help finding missing 16-year-old

Police say all her family and friends have been contacted, and none of them know where she is.

mpd suspect 12.3.21 - 1 - CROP

MPD releases photos of shooting suspect, asks for public's help

The man is wanted in connection with a fatal shooting that happened Wednesday evening.

redmons popcorn colbert 2

Support grows for Redmon's Popcorn after shop's sudden closure

The county also commented on the situation, saying it hopes to help owner Zack Redmon.

prior lake high school

Prior Lake HS investigating another 'racist' video involving student

The principal said the social media video was reported to them this week.

Screen Shot 2021-12-03 at 3.08.27 PM

Walz: Minnesota has secured 1 million rapid, at-home COVID tests for kids

It comes as the delta variant continues to surge in Minnesota, and the omicron variant might follow.

boundary waters

Forest Service limiting permits to BWCAW due to damage, overcrowding

Visitors have been cutting down trees and have been forced to compete for campsites.

police lights

Lockdown update: Armed man threatened to go to Kimball High School

A high school and elementary school near St. Cloud went into lockdown as a precaution.

chaska sewer

People in Chaska are flushing the wrong crap down the toilet

Water and sewer crews in Chaska have had to clean the same pump four times in the past seven days.

Brian O'Neill

Matthew Coller: What if the Vikings didn't have Detroit?

The Lions have been like two freebies on the Vikings' schedule the past three seasons.

water drain

MN will get $116M for water projects as part of infrastructure package

Nationwide, $7.4 billion will be distributed for projects next year.


St. Cloud schools would have to report bullying to feds under deal to settle Somali harassment case

The St. Cloud School District would have to report to the federal government any future allegations of harassment or discrimination against Somali students under a settlement that would end an investigation in the district. The investigation finds the district did not break any federal rules in how it handled previous incidents.

St. Cloud schools near deal in alleged Muslim harassment investigation

An agreement with the U.S. Department of Education would end a federal investigation into charges that Muslim students in the district faced harassment and discrimination. The district says its own investigation revealed many of the claims were accurate and says it took appropriate action when authorities learned about the problem.