MN school district receives $1.1 Million grant to fund controversial outreach program

The Faribault, Minnesota, school district voted Monday to accept $1.1 million in state aid for an anti-drug program that some call discriminatory against white students.

A south Minnesota school district voted Monday in favor of accepting a $1.1million state grant to curb drug use among students of colour. The money was delayed by two board members who argued that it could discriminate against students of color.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Monday’s meeting at Faribault was so large that officials had to create an extra room.

Richard Olson, a Board Member, also objected in November to funding. He argued that the grant “doesn’t help all students.”



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“This will be over. That is what I know. He said that it did not have his support.

Six members of the public requested that the board approve the grant. Martha Brown, a substitute teacher, stated that it was a simple matter of urgency.

Jaylani Hussein is the executive director of the Minnesota chapter on the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He said that the previous vote by the board had shaken his faith in the district’s ability to help students of color.

He said, “I urge you to vote in favor of it, but I am also concerned that you aren’t keenly interested as we move forward in making sure all our students succeed.”

After Olson and another member claimed that programs for students of color were unfair, four members of the board were unable to vote in November.

Faribault, Minnesota school district received over $1 million in state funding for a program that aims to curb drug use among minorities. (Fox News)

Faribault is a small city of 24,000 residents located less than an hour from Minneapolis. The district serves this area. The city’s white population is 73%. However, it has significant Latino, Black, and Somali American populations. More than 60% are students from a school district that is predominantly composed of people of color.

After a mother from Somali approached the school board with concerns about her son’s drug use, the district applied for the grant through the Minnesota Department of Human Services. This funding will be used to combat drug abuse among Black, Indigenous, and other students of color.

In a statement, the department stated that it had received data from community members and also discussed with them, which showed that Black, Indigenous, and other communities of colour require dedicated efforts to reduce disparities in addiction treatment access.

In the past funding to stop student drug abuse was accepted without objections. Nov. 21 was a different day.

“Would you ever consider pursuing a grant that was only for whites in the hope that it would trickle down into our BIPOC community?” Would we do the reverse? “And I don’t believe we would,” LeeAnn Lechtenberg, a Board Member, stated at the November meeting. Lechtenberg stated that she had reconsidered her objections following assurances received from community groups, that no student suffering from substance abuse would be denied services.



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Superintendent Jamie Bente called on board members to vote in favor of Monday’s grant before the vote.

“I will accept any grant that aids any student. He said that if the grant does not go to a particular group, we will still look for money to support them.”



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District would be able to hire a youth coordinator, media consultant, project coordinator and project coordinator. Six local organizations will also be paid to conduct a survey of the community to determine the best way to stop drug abuse.

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