Some Minneapolis community leaders are calling for the resignation of a Minneapolis city council member after he made some controversial comments about North High School.
With hundreds of students and staff, North High School is at the heart of north Minneapolis and now, at the center of a war of words.
"The love and respect we have for that one high school we have in our community is solid across this community and it will always be," said local civil rights activist Spike Moss.
Some leaders in the city's black community want 5th ward council member Don Samuels to step down. The concern is over comments Samuels made in this month's Minneapolis-St. Paul magazine.
Referring to public education he says, "I’ve said burn North High School down! I can't be paying for the education of my neighbors and 72 percent of them are failing - meaning black boys."
The comments are not sitting well with some.
"For him to say burn down Minneapolis North High school is absolutely atrocious and unacceptable to us in the community. We think it's very poorly, poorly-led rhetoric which is insightful and hateful to our community," said community leader Obie Kipper Jr.
For his part, Samuels admits to being passionate, outspoken and at times, extreme.
"This was just an extreme expression of disappointment and outrage using metaphorical and symbolic language which was not communicated well and caused so many people to feel hurt," said Samuels.
While he apologizes for his words, Samuels makes no apologies for addressing an issue he says is leading to the deterioration of the community he represents. Samuels says more needs to be done to improve student performance.
"I think it is a travesty that so many are failing and the rest of us are arranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. This is awful," said Samuels.
Samuels said he won't resign.
His opponents say they'll start a petition drive to get him recalled.
As for the numbers, Samuels claims nearly three quarters of all African American ninth grade boys who go to North High School will not graduate.
The Minnesota Department of Education's statistics say in 2005, the graduation rate for all African American students at North High School was 82 percent.
(Copyright 2007 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)