Washburn students face discipline for racial incident

TANGLETOWN — Four Washburn High School students face disciplinary measures for what Minneapolis Public Schools has termed “an incident of racial intolerance.”

According to the school and the district, the four students hung a dark-skinned doll by its neck using a piece of string near the end of the school day Jan. 11. Students recorded the incident and images were posted to social media sites. It was also recorded on school security cameras.

In a letter to Washburn families posted on the school’s website, Principal Carol Markham-Cousins called the incident “an extremely disturbing occurrence” not reflective of the school’s culture.

“Such insensitive behavior is intolerable in our school and school district, both of which are full of diversity and rich in culture,” Markham-Cousins wrote.

The nature of the discipline the student will face is not public information. The district did not release any information on the four students’ ages or genders. The district’s statement says the students “were involved to varying degrees.”

In Markham-Cousins’ letter she described plans to deal with the situation by “promoting open dialogue” among students and asking parents to talk with their children about appropriate behavior and the use of social media.

She wrote: “Aside from following the school district’s code of conduct in any instance of inappropriate behavior, we will be creating opportunities for these students to take responsibility for their actions through restorative measures.”

UPDATE: In response to concerns about the incident, the district scheduled a community dialogue involving school leaders and local elected officials 5 p.m. Jan. 23 in the Washburn auditorium. Students, parents and community members are all welcome to attend.