A Minnesota school district “illegally excluded” white students from a $1.1 million state grant intended to prevent drug abuse, American Enterprise Institute scholar and Michigan University professor Mark Perry alleged in a civil rights complaint obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Faribault Public School District accepted the $1.1 million Minnesota Department of Human Services grant on Monday to prevent drug abuse for black, indigenous and other students of color amid backlash from school board members, the Star Tribune reported. The grant violates Title VI, which prevents discrimination based on race, Perry’s complaint alleged.
“In violation of Title VI, non-BIPOC students will be illegally excluded from the District’s mental health and drug abuse prevention efforts and illegally discriminated against on the basis of their race, color, and national origin,” Perry wrote in the complaint, which was sent to the Chicago Office for Civil Rights (OCR). “Please investigate the District for its planned race-based discrimination in violation of Title VI.”
Perry told the DCNF that there is “no ‘unless you have good intentions’ exceptions to Title VI.”
Civil rights complaint filed against Faribault schools over grant excluding white students https://t.co/C0p9MvJBBS There is no “unless you have good intentions” exception to Title VI. Discrimination is still unlawful even if it advantages the “right” races for the “right” reasons
— Mark J. Perry (@Mark_J_Perry) December 9, 2022
The grant was accepted despite school board members’ concerns that the grant could exclude students in the district, according to KSTP. The grant was stalled in a 2-2 vote in November before being approved at the second meeting 5-1.
Richard Olsen, who cast the lone dissent vote, said he did so because “it does not help all students,” reported the Tribune.
“Race-based discrimination is still unlawful even if it advantages the ‘right’ races/colors for the ‘right’ reasons,” Perry told the DCNF. “It is a clear violation of Title VI that the Faribault District will illegally exclude non-BIPOC students from the District’s mental health and drug abuse prevention efforts and illegally discriminate against non-BIPOC students on the basis of their race, color and national origin.”
Superintendent Jamie Bente acknowledged that the grant may only fund help for certain students, but dismissed the concerns by reportedly stating that he “will go for any grant that helps any student. And if it leaves out a certain group, then we will look for money to help that group as well,” the Tribune reported.
Perry informed the district of his complaint on Wednesday in an email obtained by the DCNF. Perry recommended that the Faribault Public School District’s legal counsel “conduct an internal legal review of [its] planned race-based discrimination in violation of Title VI’s prohibition of such discrimination.”
The Chicago OCR, the Faribault Public School District and Olsen did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment. Bente could not be contacted.