A violent altercation, which appeared to leave one student unconscious, was captured on video Sept. 29 at Hopkins High School in Minnetonka, parents told Alpha News.
The incident, amid plummeting test scores, has parents questioning whether they should keep their kids enrolled in the district.
Hopkins was the state’s first National School of Excellence but no longer appears to be an atmosphere of academic distinction. Parents say Hopkins now has the lowest test scores among surrounding schools and are questioning the district’s strategy for addressing the escalating disorder and plunging scores.
In one example, a disturbing video captured a violent altercation in a girls’ bathroom late last month.
In the video, which was posted on Snapchat, two girls can be seen fiercely throwing fists at each other until they fall to the floor. Once on the floor, one student straddles the other, landing back-to-back blows to her head until she appears to knock the girl unconscious. The student then repeatedly stomps the unconscious girl in the head with her foot until onlookers pull her away.
Some parents attribute the mayhem to poor policies.
“I’m concerned with policies that are creating a downward trajectory in academics. I’m concerned with policies that are creating an atmosphere of violence and policies that are taking money out of our school district,” said a father, who asked to remain anonymous. “When you take the police out of the school, you’re going to have problems. Why is anyone surprised?”
“How many fights do we have to have or how many kids need to leave before the school board and administration considers trying to improve the school?” said another parent.
The district is hemorrhaging students to Minnetonka Public Schools, costing the district millions of dollars per year, according to numbers in Minnetonka’s 2021-22 Enrollment Report.
Minnetonka has been criticized in the past for its aggressive open-enrollment strategies, but parents point out that Hopkins is losing significantly more students to Minnetonka than any other district.
More than 1,000 students deserted Hopkins Public Schools last school year and open-enrolled in Minnetonka, according to the report. Some parents believe declining academics are to blame.
Although many parents are unhappy, they feel their concerns are falling on deaf ears. According to one parent, Mhiripiri-Reed authorized a student walkout in honor of George Floyd when classes resumed after the COVID-19 lockdowns. When parents complained, they said she told them in a YouTube video, which has since been taken down, “You’re either going to change or you’d better get comfortable with being uncomfortable because this is the way it’s going to be.”
Parents are frustrated that students are leaving their home district for another public school.
“It would be different if they were leaving for a private school, but they’re leaving for another public school that is five miles away,” another mom said.
She said she thinks administrators act as if they don’t care the school is failing and appear to be making excuses by pointing to the diverse student body.
One mom said she’s insulted when administrators point to the diversity of students to explain the decline in test scores.
“Are you implying kids from diverse backgrounds either don’t deserve a good education or can’t achieve at the same levels as white kids?” she said.
Another mother of a high-school student said all kids in public school should have a chance to graduate with at least average math and reading skills.
As test scores continue to decline, parents are expressing their frustration on social media.
“Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse after posting the 2022 academic proficiency scores for math (40.1%) and reading (44.2%), along comes science,” a parent posted on the Nextdoor app. Students at Hopkins High School demonstrated a 29.9% proficiency in science this year.
One mother said she thinks teachers and administrators believe it is better for everyone if no one is challenged.
Some Hopkins parents said low scores are no surprise.
“They are caused by shortening the school day, adding more and more study-hall times and spending less and less minutes in each academic class and having academic classes only one semester instead of being whole year classes,” a parent wrote on the Nextdoor App.
One parent, who took her children out of Hopkins and open-enrolled them in Minnetonka, said her students had a good experience at Hopkins until they advanced to middle school.
“She [Mhiripiri-Reed] doesn’t understand that the money follows the student. So we moved and we’re having a great experience,” she said. “The school is going to continue to suffer under her regime.”
All parents interviewed for this article asked to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions from employers.
Alpha News reached out to Superintendent Mhiripiri-Reed, but she did not respond.
Sheila Qualls is an award-winning journalist and former civilian editor of an Army newspaper. Prior to joining Alpha News, she was a Christian Marriage and Family columnist at Patheos.com and a personal coach. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, the MOPS blog, Grown and Flown, and The Christian Post. She speaks nationally on issues involving faith and family.