Rochester school district wants to charge parents $900,000 for CRT documents

The Rochester school district wants $900,000 and 6.5 years to complete a records request submitted by concerned parents.

The Rochester Public Schools Board holds a meeting in October during which they banned a man for a year for not wearing a mask. (Rochester Public Schools/YouTube)

Concerned parents whose children attend Rochester Public Schools have asked the district to turn over copies of emails, text messages, and documents pertaining to critical race theory, equity, and the like.

On Nov. 14, writer and anti-CRT activist Christopher Rufo obtained a 41-page records request sent to interim superintendent Dr. Kent Pekel on Sept. 20. The request was filed by the Minneapolis-based law office of Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson, P.A. on behalf of a group of concerned parents calling themselves “Equality in Education.”

“The parent movement is starting to play hardball,” tweeted Rufo.

Under Minnesota law, the public can request access to certain government data via the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. The parents are requesting the relevant material from Rochester Public Schools by Dec. 15, which includes but is not limited to:

  • Emails, documents, and text messages on government funded cellphones from interim superintendent Pekel that “mention or relate to” the topics of “equity, social justice, cultural competency, race, intersectionality, or CRT.”
  • Rochester Public Schools curricula since the beginning of 2020 in the subjects of history, social studies, geography, English, English literature, U.S. history, world history, as well as any other courses with a “sociological or cultural theme” or a “discussion of current events.”
  • Lists of conferences, seminars, and symposia offered to teachers since the beginning of 2020 and their curricula, and of consultants and advisors who have advised teachers on the topics of equity, social justice, cultural competency, race, intersectionality, or CRT.

In response, Rochester Public Schools tried to charge the parents $900,000 to fulfill their records request, according to the Daily Caller.

“On Nov. 12, an attorney representing the district said that it would cost ‘Equality in Education’ $901,121.15 to obtain the records and they must prepay before the district completes their request,” the report reads.

Additionally, the district said it would take 13,478 hours to complete the request, which amounts to about 6.5 years, assuming the request is worked on 40 hours per week.

In other district news, RPS is dealing with an alarming trend of student violence and blatant disobedience of authority.

At a recent school board meeting, interim superintendent Pekel blamed the disruptive behavior on a small segment of students who have struggled to adjust back to fully in-person learning.

Pekel’s multistep strategy to combat the behavior now and in the future entails the adoption of uniform response strategies, an understanding of the “experiences” of misbehaving students, and the hiring of more “equity specialists.”

“We know it will not be effective if we respond to this situation only with consequences,” he said. “We need to also respond with ‘supports.'”


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.