Schools notebook // Rallying for Cadotte

Burroughs families rally for Cadotte

LYNNHURST — Burroughs Community School families gathered April 27 at Lynnhurst Park to rally for Principal Tim Cadotte, who was placed on administrative leave a week earlier.

Cadotte was suspended following an April 18 confrontation in the Burroughs office with School Board Member Chris Stewart. Verbal sparring between the two included accusations of racism on both sides, parents said.

Personnel regulations prevented district employees from discussing details of the confrontation, which remained under investigation when this edition of the Southwest Journal went to press. Retired Lake Harriet Community School Principal Marsha Seltz was named interim principal.

Many Burroughs parents expressed distress and confusion in the days after Cadotte’s removal.

“It’s just totally wrong, in all senses,” Kate Siefert, the parent of two Burroughs students said. “I think the whole thing got blown out of proportion.”

The confrontation took place less than two weeks before the district was to present a major plan to save money by closing some schools, cutting back on transportation and shifting school attendance boundaries. Facing a $28 million budget shortfall, district officials said they hoped the plan would save about $7.5–8.5 million.

Burroughs was one of several school communities where parents, concerned about changes to school programs, organized efforts to present alternatives to the district’s plan.

Burroughs Site Council Co-Chair Kip Wennerlund said parents hoped to save the school’s Native Language Literacy (NLL) program. The district began last school year to phase-out the program, which bused Spanish-speaking students in from outside the neighborhood.

Wennerlund said NLL was a successful program that helped Burroughs to meet the district’s diversity and achievement goals.

“In trying to fix things in the district, I guess my gut-level response is: Do no harm,” he said. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

The school’s site council posted a statement in the school favoring the preservation of NLL. That was at least part of what sparked the argument between Cadotte and Stewart, Wennerlund said.

In addition to saving money, the district restructuring aims to improve diversity at its schools. More than 70 percent of Burroughs students are white, compared to the district average of 30 percent.

Wennerlund said some construed the site council’s position on NLL as favoring Hispanic students over African-Americans. At the rally, he dismissed the idea that Cadotte or Burroughs families were racist for supporting NLL.

“We want Mr. Cadotte’s stellar reputation and the welcoming reputation of the entire Burroughs community restored,” he told the crowd.

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District seeking business leaders

Minneapolis Public Schools put out a call for leaders from the Asian-American business community to participate in a two-day event at Hmong International Academy, 2410 Girard Ave. N.

The academy will host 100 Strong Who Care: Building Bridges for the Next Generation, a community program that aims to inspire Asian-American students to pursue careers in science, law, technology and other professions. The event, scheduled for May 27–28, was co-sponsored by the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans and the Minnesota Corporate Asian Network.

Volunteers should contact the district’s Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity at 668-0019. They can also email [email protected]

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Concert celebrates Mexico

Students from Southwest-area public schools will join the
VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble singers in a concert celebrating Mexican musical traditions 7:30 p.m. May 12 at Orchestra Hall.

“¡Cantaré!” will feature three new choral works by Mexican composers Jorge Córdoba, Sabina Covarrubias and Jorge Cózatl. The three composers worked this year with students from Southwest High School, Windom Spanish Dual Immersion and Burroughs Community School, among other area schools.