PRIOR LAKE, Minn. — The principal of Prior Lake High School and district superintendent say they're investigating after a video of students using a racist slur was shared on social media.
Principal John Bezek confirmed in a statement that the "serious and disturbing racist video" was posted by a student and the school has launched an investigation into those involved.
"Racist messages like the one in the video create an environment that is hostile to learning," Bezek wrote in a letter to staff and families. "I want to assure students and staff that we are committed to their safety and emotional well-being."
Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools Superintendent Teri Staloch echoed Bezek's message in her own statement and promised "swift and appropriate action" against those involved.
"This is something that impacts all of us in the community and we recognize the pain and hurt that is a result," Staloch wrote.
In the video, which has been circulating online for several days, students are heard using the N-word multiple times and telling a student to "rot in hell." A GoFundMe account for the teen targeted in the video, now identified as 14-year-old Nya Sigin, has raised nearly $100,000. The organizer of the fund says Nya has been in an ongoing battle with racism and mental health for a while now, and that the money will be used to support the teen and her family and start a college fund.
PLHS sophomore Deandre Vanek told KARE the video raised concerns over his safety.
“Coming from, like, a mixed [race] background myself, like I've been called those things and it hurts,” Vanek said. "I just want to feel safe going back into school without the fear of being called this or that. You know, I just want everybody to get along like we should. I mean, we have our whole lives ahead of us."
On Thursday, Prior Lake Mayor Kirt Briggs released a statement saying in part that the video doesn't represent the values of the Prior Lake community.
The full statement reads:
The video circulating on social media – created earlier this week by a young person in our community engaging in racist and hurtful attacks – is painful and disturbing for us all.
The City of Prior Lake stands united with our partners and community members, denouncing racism in our City, schools, and neighborhoods.
The video does not reflect the values of our Prior Lake community. And yet, we must acknowledge that it originated here, and that there is still important work that needs to be done.
We need to advance open conversations on racism to better understand one another and our experiences. This is the only way to create a path forward to strengthen and unite us.
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