Elementary school in Roseville Area Schools has students recite land acknowledgement before Pledge of Allegiance; school district prohibits students from wearing clothing with “American Indian team names, logos, or mascots”


On May 16, 2022, Alpha News reported that an elementary school in the district has students repeat a “land acknowledgement” statement before saying the Pledge of Allegiance. The news outlet reported that students state:

Today we say the pledge of allegiance, recognizing that we may each feel differently about our role and place in this nation. We recognize that the land we are on was seized from the Dakota People. We recognize and affirm [that] the lives of our Black, Indigenous and People of Color Matter. Each of us is a unique and contributing member of our school community

On August 22, 2021, Alpha News reported that the principal of Brimhall Elementary School appeared angry when confronted on Facebook about his support for using the preferred pronouns of students in school. The principal reportedly stated that “sex isn’t even a binary” and called an opposing view of someone who disagreed with using the preferred pronouns of students “bigoted bullshit.”

The school district has a dress code that was adopted on June 23, 2020. This dress code specifically mentions “microaggressions.” The policy states that the following attire is considered inappropriate and prohibited:

  • Attire that creates a material and substantial disruption to the educational process, school operations, or a school sponsored activity; that can reasonably be forecasted to create such a disruption; or that reflects aggression, including microaggression, toward any protected class.
  • Clothing or accessories with words, pictures, caricatures, based on stereotypes of a specific gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.
  • Clothing or accessories with American Indian team names, logos or mascots that depict stereotypes.

Roseville Area Schools has a page on its website labeled “Our Equity Vision.” The school district states that “on the materials we post or publish, you’ll see our guiding statement: ‘Quality Teaching and Learning for All…Equity in All We Do.'” The school district then promotes a “Strategic Road Map” and an “Equity Vision” on the page.

The school district promotes “Our Equity Vision.”

The school district’s “Strategic Road Map” specifically mentions “gender identity” and “sexual orientation.” The road map states: “Roseville Area Schools is committed to ensuring an equitable and respectful learning environment for every student, family, and staff member regardless of: race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ability, home or first language, religion, national origin, age, physical appearance.” A focus area of the road map is to “improve learning for students of color, American Indian students, English learners, students receiving special education services, and pre-kindergarten learners.”

To achieve the school district’s goal to “inspire all students to attain the highest levels of achievement,” the road map lists several focus areas and strategies for the district to implement. These focus areas and strategies include training staff to be “culturally responsive” and changing the curriculum to promote “diverse cultures.” The term “culturally responsive” is often used to describe a method of teaching that includes the race and ethnicity of students as part of the lessons taught in classrooms. The following are some of the road map’s strategies:

  • Prepare all staff to be culturally responsive and competent
  • Provide a safe, challenging, and equitable learning environment
  • Provide curriculum that reflects the diverse cultures of families and students
  • Increase staff expectations for students of color and American Indian students
  • Increase student engagement
  • Strengthen relationships between staff and students of color and American Indian students
  • Align early childhood to kindergarten programming including benchmarks, assessments, and curriculum
  • Increase participation of families of color and families of English learners in early childhood education programs
  • Improve program transitions for English learners and students receiving special education services
  • Increase intensive research-based interventions to support individual student needs
  • Analyze English learner needs and develop an action plan for improving instruction
  • Align special education instruction, curriculum, and assessments to district wide standards and evidence-based practices

In the school district’s “Equity Vision,” the district states that it “is committed to ensuring an equitable and respectful educational experience for every student, family, and staff member.” The district then specifically states that this is regardless of “race,” “gender,” “gender identity,” “sexual orientation,” “socioeconomic status,” “ability,” “home or first language,” “religion,” “national origin,” “age,” or “physical appearance.”

The school district promotes a document labeled “2023 Achievement and Integration Plan.” The goal of the plan appears to be to ensure that the district has no “racially identifiable schools.” The document has several goals and strategies to ensure the district achieves this ultimate goal. One strategy is to implement the AVID program. The document explains:

AVID is a college-readiness program designed to help students develop the skills they need to be successful in college. Students who participate in the AVID program are most typically from groups underrepresented on college campuses, including those from low-income families or first-generation college-bound students. Roseville Area Schools has offered AVID programming for several years at multiple school sites. Per the AVID website, the program “offers a variety of classroom activities, lesson plans, professional learning videos, and timely articles that are relevant to students” by equipping teachers and students with strategies that improve student engagement and academic success.

Another strategy is to work with the organization “Equity Alliance MN to facilitate cross district integration activities that bring together students from diverse racial, cultural, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.” The activities to accomplish with Equity Alliance MN include:

  • Offer AVID Health and Physical Education Summer credit-bearing classes for students from both Roseville Area Schools and Inver Grove Heights Community School.
  • Continue the Youth Executive Board (YEB), a multi-district group of high school students who meet weekly to build relationships through team-building activities, learn how to use their power in positive ways to influence change and build their leadership and academic potential. YEB students participate in a culminating event along with students of Native Leadership Council (NYLC).
  • Utilize AmeriCorps Promise Fellows and Vista volunteers, in collaboration with the MN Alliance with Youth, to provide both inter- and cross-district integration service learning opportunities for RAS 6-12 grade students.

The school district also has a document online labeled “2020 Enrollment and Demographic Report.” The document states that the school district will “improve learning for students of color, American Indian students, English learners, students receiving special education services, and prekindergarten learners.” The document then provides the following focus areas:

  • Provide a safe, challenging, and equitable learning environment
  • Provide curriculum that reflects the diverse cultures of families and students
  • Continue professional development for Culturally Responsive Competent Teaching
  • Strengthen relationships between staff and students of color and American Indian Students
  • Analyze English learner needs and develop an action plan for improving instruction

The document also provides student data by ethnicity, including information about students who are “white,” “black,” “Hispanic,” “Asian,” “American Indian,” and “multiracial.” The document additionally provides similar data on the languages that students speak at home.

The school district’s website also has a page promoting an “AVID elective class.” The school district states: “Held during the regular school day, the elective class is the foundation of AVID. The curriculum focuses on writing, college and careers, strategies for success, and critical reading. WICOR learning strategies – Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Reading – are used to develop skills for college and beyond.”

The school district promotes an “AVID elective class.”

AVID is an organization that promotes “cultural relevance and responsiveness” in schools. AVID’s website explains that the organization “encourages educators to consistently evaluate their teaching practices and adopt a willingness to change in order to address the ways in which their students learn.” AVID’s website also explains how the organization “supports educators schoolwide in clarifying how culturally relevant teaching practices are imperative in the mission of college and career readiness for all students.”

AVID promotes “cultural relevance.”
AVID supports teachers having a “willingness to change” their curriculum.

The school district’s website additionally promotes working with the organization “Equity Alliance MN.” The school district explains: “Equity Alliance MN is a collaborative of nine area school districts that have united to address the educational issues resulting from dramatic demographic changes and inequities. Through Equity Alliance MN, nine suburban districts partner to provide culturally responsive learning opportunities that enable all students to participate fully in the social, economic, and democratic lives of their communities.”

The school district promotes “Equity Alliance MN.”

Equity Alliance MN’s website states that the organization believes “that race and culture fundamentally shape and influence our core values, our thinking, our policies and our practices.” The organization’s website also promotes “Equity Reviews.” The organization states that its “Equity Review is a process that supports a district through data-informed practices to guide decision-making, implementation and action on how to develop context specific strategies to school-community concerns.” Equity Alliance MN explains that the purpose of the Equity Review is to support “districts and organizations through collection of multiple data points, qualitative and quantitative research, and identifying gaps, areas for growth and strengths” by doing the following:

  • Walkthroughs at the classroom, school and/or district level
  • Surveys to gather quantitative data from stakeholders utilizing up to seven individualized stakeholder survey options
  • Focus groups and community conversations to gather voice and insight
  • Data aggregation of a variety of district data points through an equity lens
  • A summary of findings and considerations
Equity Alliance MN states that the organization believes “race and culture fundamentally shape and influence our core values, our thinking, our policies and our practices.”
Equity Alliance MN explains the purpose of the “Equity Review.”

The school district’s website promotes providing teachers with “a conscious and consistent system-wide Culturally Responsive and Competent Teaching (CRCT) professional development plan.” The school district states that “the professional development plan emphasizes personal and interpersonal awareness and sensitivity, cultural knowledge, and cross-cultural teaching skills to achieve the CRCT goals.”

The school district provides teachers with “Culturally Responsive and Competent Teaching (CRCT) professional development.”

On January 14, 2020, the school district revised its curriculum policy to focus on equity. When adopting a new curriculum, the school district must now consider “how the curriculum advances the implementation of the District’s Equity Vision and the Educational Equity Curriculum and Instruction Compass by articulating how the new program design will address the concerns raised through the Equity Analysis Framework completed in Phase I.”

On April 13, 2021, the school district revised its policy on selecting instructional materials to emphasize equity. Criteria for instructional materials include:

  • Instructional materials shall provide multiple viewpoints on issues, including current and historically absent and counter narratives, so that students may develop the skills of critical analysis and informed decision making.
  • In making all instructional materials recommendations, staff will strive to place principle above personal opinion and reason above prejudice.
  • Instructional materials shall advance implementation of the district’s Equity Vision, address inequities identified in program review, and promote an appreciation of all differences based on respect for self-worth, dignity, and personal value of each individual.
    • Instructional materials will authentically embed and integrate the representation of current and historically marginalized groups.
    • Instructional materials shall reflect diverse cultural values and beliefs of a pluralistic society.

The school district’s “Human Resources” page states that the district intends to hire staff who demonstrate “racial and cultural competence.” The school district states on the “Human Resources” page: “We strive to attract, develop, and retain high-quality staff who demonstrate ongoing learning, racial and cultural competence, and a commitment to the district’s equity vision, values, vision, and strategic directions as outlined in our Strategic Roadmap.”

The school district’s “Human Resources” page promotes “racial and cultural competence.”

The school district’s website also promotes a “Director of Equity.”

The school district has a “Director of Equity.”

The school district’s website has a page titled “Advanced Academics and Talent Development.” The page starts by explaining that “Roseville Area Schools is committed to equity, anti-racism, inclusiveness, and asset-based practices for the success of all students in our racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse student population.” The page also explains that the school district offers two programs. The first is “Talent Development [which] includes services that mitigate opportunity gaps.” The second is “Advanced Academics [which] includes services and extensions not offered in core academic programming.”

The school district promotes “equity” and “anti-racism” for a program designated for gifted students.

The school district’s website has a letter written by the superintendent at the time. The letter discussed George Floyd’s death, “historical trauma inflicted by society and police on people of color,” and the topics of “racial equity, racism and systemic injustices.” The superintendent continued to explain in the letter:

We have been working collaboratively with Roseville PD and the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office to implement immediate changes for the upcoming school year. As a first step, both police departments have agreed that starting this school year, officers will wear casual uniforms (e.g., polo shirts). Administrators will continue to work with students to take measures to eliminate trauma caused by the presence of officers in schools and make recommendations for improvements. RAHS and RAMS have committed to making changes to improve the lived experiences of students of color with police liaison officers, including increasing student voice by holding monthly meetings with students—especially students of color—and involving students on future police liaison officer interview teams.

The superintendent of the school wrote a letter discussing “racial equity” and “systemic injustices.”

The same superintendent also wrote a letter discussing the events surrounding January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol. In the letter, he stated that “white supremacy” played a role in what happened and described the situation as “white privilege in action.” He continued to state that “the hateful, racist symbols displayed were distressing and traumatizing for many and should be called out.”

The superintendent wrote a letter calling the events surrounding the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, “white privilege in action.”

On April 19, 2022, Alpha News also reported that a “group called Falcon Families for Equity and Justice was invited to give a presentation to the [school district’s] board during an April 12 meeting and appeared alongside Falcon Heights Elementary School Principal Beth Behnke.” The news outlet reported that the organization “has a ‘Community Action Committee’ that organizes events on ‘equity and antiracism.'” The group reportedly “consists of around 20 parents who organized an anniversary march for George Floyd’s death.”

The website for Falcon Heights Elementary School now promotes and links to the website of “Falcon Families for Equity and Justice.” The organization lists goals to accomplish on its website. These goals include to “provide a safe and brave space for community members to share their experiences and concerns surrounding racism, discrimination, inequity, exclusion, and injustice” and to “provide educational opportunities for our caregivers, teachers, staff, and students by hosting opportunities for learning about antiracism, equity and justice.” The organization also promotes resources that include the political books White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

Falcon Heights Elementary School promotes the organization “Falcon Families for Equity and Justice.”
Falcon Families for Equity and Justice intends to provide “opportunities for learning about antiracism, equity and justice.”
Falcon Families for Equity and Justice promotes blatantly political books.