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North H.S. basketball player receives racist message during state tournament

The MSHSL released a statement saying that Morris Area and Chokio-Alberta schools made the student take down the post and are "holding the student accountable."
Credit: KARE

MINNEAPOLIS — A player on the North High School boys basketball team in Minneapolis said he received a racist message on social media Friday night, following the team's win over Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta at the state tournament.

North coach Larry McKenzie posted about the message, which is believed to have been sent from a student from Morris Area or Chokio-Alberta, writing, "this is an unfortunate and unexpected distraction for our program, in preparation for the opportunity to compete for a championship Saturday against Annandale."

In a statement released on Monday, Chokio-Alberta Public Schools principal Tate Jerome told KARE 11 in a statement that the student accused of sending the racist message will receive "the most appropriate consequences," but declined to disclose potential actions citing the student's privacy.

"Chokio-Alberta Public Schools and Morris Area Schools administration have worked closely with the MSHSL and also have been in contact with the Minneapolis School District and Minneapolis North High School throughout the process to build relationships that have been hurt and also work together to prevent future negative incidents.

Ultimately we are an educational establishment and need to be proactive in helping our students to learn from their mistakes and from other people's mistakes. FERPA or the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act makes it a violation of student rights to disclose any disciplinary actions towards any student. We will make sure to give the most appropriate consequences but this information is confidential."

A post on North High School's Facebook says that both Morris Area and Chokio-Alberta school districts have been in contact with North administrators, adding that both districts, as well as the community, "have exhibited nothing but remorse & humility in taking the actions of their student seriously & issuing swift consequences. They have asked to extend their most honest apologies to our student who received this message, his family, teammates & the entire North High community. We accept & are grateful. Thank you."

The Minnesota State High School League released a statement in response to the incident, saying that the school districts made the student take down the post, and are "holding the student accountable."

"The Minnesota State High School League vehemently condemns hate speech, harassment, or any behavior meant to cause harm to other," the statement reads, in part. "These actions have no place in our schools or activities for all behaviors that are a direct violation of the belief that ethical behavior, dignity and respect are nonnegotiable."

Several other racial incidents have occurred recently, many occurring at sporting events. Student-athletes from visiting schools were subjected to racist comments from students and adults from New Prague at two separate events. Both incidents occurred on Feb. 15 — one at a girls basketball game against Robbinsdale Cooper High School and the other at a boys hockey game against St. Louis Park. 

New Prague students were also accused of flashing a racist hand gesture during the state boys hockey tournament. New Prague school officials released a statement following the state hockey incident saying the students were "upper elementary" students, who claimed to have not known the meaning of the gesture.

Also in February, the Prior Lake High School girls basketball team is forfeited its final regular-season game and the first round of the playoffs after a teammate found a racist note in her bag.

Although not related to sports, two other racist videos involving students at Prior Lake High School prompted investigations in November and December. The first of the two videos, which targeted a 14-year-old freshman, prompted students to walk out of class in protest.

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