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CAIR pushes US Dept. of Education investigation into claims of harassment of Somali students

Posted by Ann Corcoran on June 4, 2010

This is an update of the on-going controversy in St. Cloud, MN about alleged harassment of Somali students by white kids.  I meant to post on this last week and have additional comments, but the story is getting old and I thought I better just get it up in its bare bones form without a lot of yakking by me.   Please use our search function for St. Cloud to see our many previous posts.   See also this post about Kansas yesterday and a comment by a Somali woman who discusses the concept of  what she terms the Somali “invasion” of “villages.”   Although with an estimated population of 10,000 Somalis I’m wondering if the St. Cloud Somalis would still consider this a “village?”

From the St. Cloud Times:

The U.S. Department of Education will investigate claims of discrimination against Somali students in St. Cloud and Owatonna high schools, federal officials said Tuesday.

The investigation is in response to a complaint from the Council on American-Islamic Relations asking the department’s Office of Civil Rights to investigate claims in the two school districts. Minnesota CAIR detailed a number of incidents in St. Cloud’s high schools that they say show Somali students confront a hostile and harassing environment.

“I’m sure (the investigation) will start fairly soon. Resolution can take anywhere from a month to several months,” said Justin Hamilton, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education.

The letter the department sent to the school district asks for information related to harassment complaints involving Somalis at Technical High School and Apollo High School. It asks for a written response to the allegations and school policies on discrimination. The district has 15 days to return the information.

CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) cheers the investigation announcement.

In a statement, CAIR Minnesota, which is in St. Paul, said it welcomed the investigation.

“Our goal is to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all students,” said CAIR Minnesota Civil Rights Director Taneeza Islam. “Decades after the beginning of the civil rights movement, no student should be constantly subjected to racial slurs or harassment at school.”

Hamilton said the department cannot investigate for religious discrimination. But it can investigate possible discrimination based on national origin, race or color.

Will this part of the investigation get a full review?  At least one commenter I saw didn’t think so.

The report also showed Somali students were involved in harassing behavior toward non-Somali students.

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