Civil rights complaint filed against Faribault schools over grant excluding white students

The complainant wrote in an email to Faribault school board members that "there are no 'unless you have good intentions' exceptions to Title VI."

The Faribault school board discusses the grant at a meeting Monday night. (Faribault Public Schools)

Faribault’s public school district is facing a federal civil rights complaint over a drug abuse prevention grant that appears to exclude white students.

Alpha News has learned that a Title VI complaint was filed against Faribault Public Schools less than 48 hours after the school board approved a $1.1 million grant to fund anti-drug abuse programs specifically aimed at “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color” (BIPOC).

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits race-based discrimination in any programs or activities that receive federal funds.

The complainant, Minnesota resident and emeritus professor of economics Mark Perry, wrote in an email to Faribault school board members that “there are no ‘unless you have good intentions’ exceptions to Title VI.”

“Race-based discrimination is still unlawful even if it advantages the ‘right’ races/colors for the ‘right’ reasons,” he said. “It is a clear violation of Title VI that your District will illegally exclude non-BIPOC students from your 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.”

At a meeting in November, some school board members were reluctant to accept the grant on the basis that it appeared to discriminate against white students. But when the measure was raised again at Monday night’s meeting, it passed by a 5-1 vote.

According to data cited by the Star Tribune, the Faribault public school district is roughly 60% non-white. The city of Faribault itself, on the other hand, is estimated to be between 75 and 80% white. Many of the city’s non-white residents are Somali Muslims.

According to school board documents, the grant was pursued after a Somali mom raised concerns in the summer about drug abuse among youth in her community. The grant, from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, aims to reduce “youth alcohol, nicotine, and other drug use in black, indigenous, and people of color communities.”

“To hear sentiment about refusing dollars that is meant to fund BIPOC children is wildly egregious and shocking because it was done in the name of equity,” Mohamed Ibrahim, deputy director of Minnesota’s CAIR chapter, told the media after Monday’s meeting.

Perry said the district can correct its error by discontinuing the “discriminatory” program, opening the program to all students, or introducing an equivalent program for non-BIPOC students.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.