Conversation on race and schools Thursday

Southwest parents hosting Washburn event

A public dialogue on issues of racial equality and integration in Minneapolis Public Schools is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m. Thursday at Washburn High School, 201 W. 49th St.

A group of Southwest parents organized the forum to address tensions around race issues that have come up during planning for significant school changes in 2010. The Changing School Options plan would shrink the district, while at the same time aiming to improve integration in Minneapolis schools.

One proposal would create a voluntary, intra-district integration program that would give students from majority African American neighborhoods in North Minneapolis access to a Southwest school. Other proposed program changes attempt bring two or three additional schools within the district’s target range for diversity, which is between 30 and 70 percent students of color.

Debate over the Changing School Options plan at times has included charges of racism. Parents of Burroughs Community School students said Principal Tim Cadotte was placed on leave from that school after a confrontation with School Board Member Chris Stewart, during which both sides alleged racism.

A professional facilitator will moderate the discussion.

The parents started a website for the event at racialequityinmplsschools.ning.com.