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October 18, 2019

9/19/2019 3:58:00 PM
Chisago Lakes bullying response complied with policy

Chisago Lakes Schools District 2144 appears to have been absolved of any direct responsibility tied to a complaint alleging unaddressed bullying caused a 15-year-old student to take his life in April 2018.  

The complaint was filed  with the Department of Education in July 2018 and announced during a press conference featuring a spokesperson with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) on behalf of a local family.    As Muslims, the family felt bullying had something to do with the tragic suicide.  Findings described for the Chisago County Press by a Dept. of Education spokesperson were not very specific because state and federal data practices “...prevent us from sharing documents that contain personal information about students,” the MDE spokesperson said.  But, the Department is authorized to state,  “No determinations involving Chisago Lakes School District have found that a school violated its bullying prohibition policy, or that its policy did not comply with state law.”

The Safe and Supportive Schools Act requires Minnesota Department of Education to investigate a district’s compliance with the Act and how well it followed its own bullying policies if the MDE receives a formal complaint.  

The formal complaint submitted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations explained that the student’s mother claimed her son was bullied because he was Muslim and the Chisago Lakes District failed to take measures to protect the student.

According to the annual report of the Minnesota School Safety Technical Assistance Center-- Chisago Lakes was one of four districts for which formal complaints were filed.  Three others were found to have not been in compliance with the laws and one investigation remains open.

The center had 325 contacts, mostly by parents.  It has also been awarded $2.9 million in five-year funding  through the federal government to increase the center’s capacity to support school social and emotional climate, according to the annual report.  School districts are also free to request additional help from the center any time.

There also was an allegation the student subject of the CAIR complaint had been “assaulted” on a bus or on school property, sometime in November about four months prior to his death.

Chisago County Attorney Janet Reiter was unable to confirm this case.  In an e mail last week she  responded to our inquiry,  “...statutes prohibit release of data related to juvenile court matters” when the juvenile is under 16 years of age.

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