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Superintendent addresses racial disparities at listening post

Rochester Public Schools continues to work at fixing racial disparity. It's been a battle since 2016 after the Office of Civil Rights determined minority students were being unfairly disciplined. The District formed a Community Focus team in response and the Superintendent met with parents and community members to get feedback on what they can do better to address the problem. Here is what they have to say.

Posted: Mar. 14, 2019 11:49 PM
Updated: Mar. 16, 2019 12:46 AM

ROCHESTER, Minn. -

Pastor Carl Eric-Gentes is a member of the Community Focus team and believes all of the initiatives Rochester Public Schools is doing is a lot to handle. The pastor always thinks there is a better way to measure the problem.

"There's so much going on that it's hard to pinpoint any one that is going to be particularly effective," Eric-Gentes said. "How are we going to measure the effectiveness of any one of those initiatives?"

Jennifer Gangloff believes much of the problem stems from a lack of diversity.

"My concern is more this every day lack of representation, lack of cultural identity in the district," Gangloff said.

Darrell Washington is the President of the Diversity Council at John Marshall High and believes things are getting better but maintains more improvements are necessary.

"There's still those microaggressions that people do, unchecked bias that is subconscious but I've definitely seen it get better," Washington said. "We don't see a lot of profiling, not outwardly anyways, we don't see anything out of the ordinary."

Eric-Gentes believes it is difficult to change long-held prejudices.

"When we're trying to talk about racism, we are talking about deep-seated ideas and concepts that are ingrained to us that we act on without even knowing it," Eric-Gentes said.

But Superintendent Michael Munoz believes progress requires a measure of patience.

"I think it's a little too early to see the kind of results we want to see," Munoz said.

Rochester Public Schools will respond with a video and they will get feedback from the Department of Human Rights at the end of this month.

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