MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In a lengthy lawsuit filed Tuesday against Eastern Carver County Schools, six black students and their families detail their experiences of what they believe is systematic racism at Chaska schools.

“I’ve been kicked in my knees, I’ve been called monkey, lots of other stuff,” Taylin Bursch said.

Bursch is one of the students involved in the suit. We saw down with him last year after someone wrote the “N-word” on his gym shirt at Chaska Middle School East.

“For me to hear that he put the shirt on and that he was embarrassed I think that’s kind of when I broke down,” Taylin’s mother, Ashleigh Bursch said. “That’s when I lost it, I mean it was tears instantly.”

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The suit also details multiple instances of blackface at school events and on social media.  In May, a photo of a Chaska High School student wearing blackface at a football game was taken out of the yearbook before students saw it.

“The fact that it happened leads me just to they’re not paying attention,” Chaska High School parent Tonya Colemen said.

The suit involves students at elementary, middle and high schools across the district. The youngest is seven. The suit alleges he was punched in the face multiple times and was told he didn’t belong.

Attorneys say four of the six students are no longer at the district fearing their physical, personal and educational well-being and citing the districts failure to fix this systemic problem.

When asked for comment, the district said it could not speak on specific litigation. However, it did release a statement that Superintendent Clint Christopher wrote to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison last week, following his meeting in August with a group of concerned parents in the district.

“Our School Board, and our district staff, are committed to an educational environment where all students feel safe, welcome, and included, and have the tools and resources to succeed,” the superintendent’s statement says, in part. “We have not yet realized that for every student, and have been working in earnest to move the needle and improve outcomes for every child that walks through our doors.”

The statement, which can be read here, says that over the last year the district has formed an Equity Advisory Council, committed senior staff to undergo extended equity training, and called on researchers to do an audit of the district’s policies, practices and performance in relation to equity.

Eastern Carver County Schools is composed of 17 schools, including Chaska High School, Chanhassen High School, the Chaska middle schools, and Pioneer Ridge Middle School.

Erin Hassanzadeh

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