Reporting John Lauritsen
RED WING, Minn. (WCCO) — A former Red Wing high school student is taking the school district to federal court.
Quera Pruitt, a 2010 graduate, claims a Homecoming event was emotionally painful and discriminatory.
The day is referred to by some as “Wankster Day.” The word is a play on a racial slur that’s slang for a white person dressed and acting in stereotypical ways associated with African-American culture.
Pruitt, who is black, claims that white students dressed in baggy clothes and flashed gang signs.
It was Wednesday of Homecoming week 2009. Students said the school had designated it “Tropical Dress” day, but not everyone played along.
Alex Streff said he remembers about 70 students coming to school dressed for “Wankster Wednesday.”
“They were dressed with low shorts, baggy t-shirts, doo rags. Anything they could to dress as an African-American student would. That’s the way it was looked at, but not their goal I believe,” said Streff.
Streff is entering his senior year at Red Wing and will be student body secretary. He said he found the act offensive, but doesn’t think the school and future students should be punished. He has even created a Facebook page called “Stand with Red Wing” which urges Quera Pruitt to drop her lawsuit. It’s a lawsuit that he and others believe is giving the school a bad name.
“It was disappointing to see students do this and it was offensive to many. But at the same time the school district handled it well by making the students change. The lawsuit is unnecessary and will damage the school further,” said Streff.
Pruitt’s lawsuit claims the district knew about “Wangster Day” ahead of time but did nothing to stop it. The lawsuit states there was a similar incident the year before, and she’s asking for $75,000 in damages and legal fees.
New Superintendent Karsten Anderson said the school is committed to providing an environment free of discrimination.
“The district denies the allegations it has created a racially hostile learning environment. And we look forward to meeting those allegations in court,” said Anderson.
Neither Pruitt nor her attorney was available for comment on Wednesday. Her lawsuit comes after an investigation conducted by the Office of Civil Rights.
Students were asked to change clothes by school officials that day, but no one was suspended. According to current Red Wing students, there was not a “Wankster Day” in 2010.