Spring Grove students’ picture mocking George Floyd’s death circulating on social media

SPRING GROVE, Minn. (WKBT)- A picture circulating on social media from Spring Grove has many in the community surprised and angered.

The picture taken in a classroom at the high school appears to be mocking the anniversary of George Floyd’s death with one student kneeling on the neck of another student on the floor.

One mother who has two African American children in the district says the picture took her breath away.

“I was just shocked, I was mad, I felt bad, so sad for my children and for our community that this kind of thing, especially right in the middle of the classroom was allowed to happen. I reached out to the superintendent and the principal. I asked if we could discuss my feelings about it as a parent of African American students so we are going to meet. They were really receptive to that which I was happy to hear,” said Chelsey Sherburne.

She also says it is a good school district with a lot of good people and she wants to work to help educate students and staff about the incident and how to bring about positive change.

Spring Grove Schools Superintendent Rachel Udstuen sent the following letter to community members:

Dear Spring Grove Community,

The Spring Grove School District recently was made aware of a negative social media post related to the death of George Floyd. The photo, posted on the anniversary of Mr. Floyd’s death, was an apparent reenactment of the manner in which Mr. Floyd was killed. The photo was taken in a School District classroom without the knowledge or condonement of the School District or its staff. Upon learning of the incident, our administration immediately responded to this report and has been investigating and addressing student, parent, staff and community concerns. We take these matters and our response to them very seriously. The School District is dealing with the actions of individuals involved. Due to state and federal data privacy laws, the School District is prohibited from publicly sharing more information about how any reports were resolved with any individual. What we can tell you, however, is that Spring Grove Schools recognize that events of this nature can be traumatic to our students, staff and community. Although school is no longer in session for the school year, we are prepared to quickly and comprehensively respond to those concerns with understanding and support. We will be available to assist students and employees who may wish to process and express their emotions and concerns relative to this incident. We also wish to reiterate that our school has been dedicated to implanting equity discussions within our school and community. We use the continuous improvement cycle to guide our feedback loops, identify areas of improvement and keep our achievement and rigor high. Our leadership teams are participating in a partnership with Minnesota Education Equity Partnership to help children achieve their full potential, regardless of race, nationality, sex or class. Staff have been participating in multiple equity professional development experiences and educational courses. Based on these trainings, staff are bringing these educational tools to our students to help educate, encourage critical thinking, reflect and discuss inequities in our schools and communities and how we can do better to ensure that all students and staff are treated equally and with respect. We encourage any students or staff members who are experiencing discomfort or who are subjected to inappropriate conduct to notify an administrator, even over the summer, to seek assistance in resolving those concerns. This is a teachable moment for our school community and a reminder that there is still more to be done. We will continue to work over the next few months to improve our programming for the upcoming school year and welcome our students and staff back to a brighter, more progressive educational experience.