A slight departure from biking today.
Reference my post regarding the alleged misconduct of a Hibbing High School vice principal from March 2015 here. It’s not alleged anymore, and really never was!!
I don’t get to say this often, but I was RIGHT sadly!!
I again call for all top administrator’s of ISD #701 to step down in shame, as well as the principal!!
Sweeping changes are still needed! All school board member’s, the principal, former superintendent and police liason are fully and completely to blame, HANDS DOWN!!
Now, fast forward to yesterday….
the Minnesota Department of Human Rights or MDHR, has made a ruling….
News headline from the Hibbing Daily Tribune……
“Minnesota Department of Human Rights concludes discrimination case against Hibbing School District.”
Are/were DEAD ASS on point!!!
ISD 701 is lead by FOOLS!!
Further proof that a HUGE lapse by ISD 701 leaders was done and a large amount of CHILDREN were affected by a predator of children…….
And the local news reports are flooding in….. the DNT story.
Bring Me The News story
Star Tribune article published today.
Another blog post I wrote, yes I’m angry!!!
Angry that the supposed leaders of ISD #701 are NOT taking this seriously enough!
Below is a summorized report by the MDHR……..
The summarized detailed of the discrimination case are in the text below, Please read this public document with care and sensitivity to the victims.
WARNING: Those who have been victims of discrimination, sexual abuse, and sexual assault may find this document VERY difficult to read. Our hearts and minds are with the victims of this discrimination. Please contact Advocates for Family Peace anytime for free and confidential assistance at 218-263-8344 if you need to talk with an advocate because you are a victim now, were in the past, or if this is too difficult to read. Resources are also available with the Northern St. Louis County Sexual Assault Program and Program to Aid Victims of Sexual Assault.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (“Department” or “MDHR”) has completed its investigation of the above-entitled matter. Based upon the results of that investigation, the Commissioner makes the determination that there is PROBABLE CAUSE to find that respondent violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
1. In late August 2013, the Department received several reports alleging disparate treatment of students by a senior administrator at the respondent high school.
2. The reports to the Department involved allegations of the senior administrator creating a sexually hostile environment for female students and disciplining non-heterosexual students more severely than other students.1 Most of the alleged incidents were alleged to have happened during the 2012-2013 school year, however some incidents occurred prior to the school year.
3. The respondent’s high school has approximately 1,000 students enrolled in grades 7 through 12 and 51% of its student body is female. The Superintendent of the School District has an office within respondent’s high school which is located on the same floor as the respondent’s senior administrators, separated only by a stairwell.
4. Because of the number of complaints received and the age of the individuals who were allegedly injured by the respondent’s senior administrator, the Commissioner, pursuant to Minn. Stat. §363A.28, Subd. 2, issued this charge of discrimination to conduct an investigation into whether respondent engaged in discriminatory practices in violation of Minn. Stat. §363A.13.
5. While the Department found sufficient evidence to support the allegations of sex-based discrimination, the Department was unable to conclude respondent engaged in sexual orientation discrimination, as discussed below.
6. The Department’s investigation involved interviews with more than 60 parents, teachers, students and staff. The Department reviewed hundreds of documents including but not limited to respondent’s policies, employee files, parental complaints, discipline records, and staff emails.
7. The Department requested information from respondent pertaining to any and all complaints made about the senior administrator.
8. No complaints against the senior administrator for discriminatory treatment or inappropriate conduct toward female students or students involved in same-gender relationships was provided to the Department by respondent.
9. The respondent’s nondiscrimination policy states that it seeks to protect students from discrimination on the basis of sex in adherence to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The respondent’s Board Policy 518 II.A provides in part, 1 It was also indicated to the Department that there were concerns of racial discrimination by respondent. However, evidence was insufficient to merit further investigation of that particular allegation.
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No student will be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity operated by the school district on the basis of sex.
10. The respondent’s nondiscrimination policy further provides that “[a]ny adult school district personnel who receives a report of unlawful sex discrimination toward a student shall inform the building principal immediately.” The policy further mandates that the principal “must notify” the respondent’s human rights officer without screening or investigating the report and must reduce the complaint to written form if the complaint is verbal.
11. The respondent’s student handbook prohibits certain clothing from being worn in school. Examples identified in the student handbook include: bare midriff, navel-baring tops, spaghetti strap tops, see-through tops or wearing clothes such that cleavage or undergarments are revealed.
12. The respondent’s Policy Manual states that “[s]tudents violating this [dress code] policy will be directed to make modifications in their clothing or will be sent home for the day.”
13. The respondent’s student handbook also provides a bright line rule on public displays of affection. Under “STUDENT RELATIONSHIP,” the respondent provides a single-sentence rule that states: “Overt displays of affection are prohibited.”
14. The Department has jurisdiction over matters of any “unfair discriminatory practice” that interferes “in any manner in the full utilization of or benefit from any educational institution, or the services rendered thereby to any person because of . . . sex . . . [or] sexual orientation. . . .” See, Minn. Stat. §363A.13, Subd. 1.
15. The Minnesota Human Rights Act is to “be construed liberally for the accomplishment of the purposes thereof.” See, Minn. Stat. §363A.04.
16. The primary issues to be determined in this matter are whether the respondent discriminated against female students and students who are engaged in same gender relationships in the access and full utilization and benefit of the services offered by Respondent’s educational institution.
Sexual Abuse Inquiries
17. Respondent specifically confirmed to the Department that the senior administrator has no “expertise” in sexual abuse or sexual assault matters.
18. Respondent further admits that the senior administrator had no formal training as a school counselor or guidance counselor.
19. Respondent unequivocally confirmed to the Department that it would be problematic if the senior administrator operated above and beyond his expertise when working with students.
20. The senior administrator specifically denied ever having discussed such issues with any student.
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21. However, respondent staff, students, and a parent confirmed that on several occasions the senior administrator did speak alone with a female student in his office about the sexual abuse the female student had suffered.
22. In no instance were any of these inquiries by the senior administrator made for the purpose of filing a criminal complaint with law enforcement officials or for filing a report of maltreatment.
23. Three of the more egregious instances of the senior administrator inquiring into the sexual abuse suffered by a female student are discussed below.
24. One young woman recounted how she was summoned out of class twice a week for an entire semester after learning that she had been molested in order to discuss her sexual assault.
25. The young woman indicated that having to divulge information about her sexual assault to the senior administrator made her feel uncomfortable and victimized.
26. Another young woman stated that the senior administrator regularly questioned her about her sexual assault, which made her feel anxious and violated.
27. On all but one known occasion, the senior administrator and young woman were alone in the senior administrator’s office when the senior administrator brought up the topic of her sexual assault.
28. On one occasion in which the young woman and senior administrator were in the presence of another student, the senior administrator disclosed the young woman’s sexual assault to the other student without the young woman’s consent.
29. The disclosure of the young woman’s sexual assault to the other student once again left the young woman feeling violated by the senior administrator.
30. The Department was informed that yet another young woman was asked to intricately detail the particular physical sensations that she experienced during the sexual abuse.2
31. These examples represent only three of the overall students identified as having been questioned by the senior administrator about their sexual abuse.
32. The senior administrator also specifically denied to the Department ever questioning students about their sex lives or use of birth control.
33. However, respondent staff, students, and parents confirmed with the Department that inquiring into the birth control practices of female students was a common practice by the senior administrator.
2 Knowledgeable respondent staff notified the Department of a student who had confided in the staff member regarding this questioning by the senior administrator. The Department was not provided the identity of the student with which to seek confirmation of the alleged conversation.
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34. The Department also confirmed that the senior administrator discussed pregnancy test results and frequently asked whether female students were being “safe” with regard to their use of birth control.
35. One parent, upset with the actions of the senior administrator, informed the Department,
My problem lies with the fact that my daughter has been called down to have discussions of her behavior outside of school. A trained guidance counselor should be dealing with these issues. The two times my daughter was called down to discuss [these non-school related events], it was [the senior administrator] that had called her in.
36. Another parent shared with the Department a written complaint the parent had previously provided respondent, which stated in part,
[My daughter] came to me and said she was called down to [the senior administrator’s office], and during the conversation the subject of birth control came up. I couldn’t think of any reason to discuss that topic. [This senior administrator is] not a counselor. Stop calling her out of class. She has the power to say no. I hope this is the end of any conversation on the topic.
37. Parents indicated to the Department that the senior administrator subsequently admitted to them that he had crossed the line with his actions.
38. Aside from referencing that he was a father with young daughters, the parents indicated that the senior administrator was unable to explain to them why they had not been contacted in relation to such discussions with their daughters.
39. Additionally, the senior administrator often asked female students to come to his office during the school day, when the students otherwise would have been in class, to inquire about who they were dating.
40. If the senior administrator learned that a female student was dating a boy of whom he did not approve, he would voice disapproval of the relationship by calling the boy a “loser” or “beneath the girl.”
41. Several female students informed the Department that they were reluctant to go to the administrative offices except in cases of emergency so that they could avoid the senior administrator. One female student told the Department that,
I heard how he made girls uncomfortable so I didn’t want to put myself in that position.
42. Some students told the Department that they affirmatively informed the respondent that they did not wish to be alone with the senior administrator.
43. Some students even informed the Department that they dropped out or transferred from respondent’s high school due in significant part to the actions of the senior administrator.
Disruption of Class Instruction
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44. Respondent’s senior administrator had authority to call students out of class for issues pertaining to attendance, truancy, and discipline.
45. However, in addition to the above examples of female students being called out of class by the senior administrator to discuss sexually related topics, female students informed the Department that they were called out of class on numerous other occasions for additional issues unrelated to attendance, truancy, or discipline.
46. One female student discussed how the senior administrator routinely called her out of class to go to his office for at least 15 minutes each time for non-disciplinary reasons. The student indicated to the Department that,
It was hard, like in [math class], when I had to be in class learning how to do certain problems and I’d come back [to class after being called to the senior administrator’s office] and I’d have no idea how to set up half the problems.
47. Another female student recounted how she was called out of class in the middle of a test just so that the administrator could direct her social life, for example, by informing the student which girls come from good families and which girls should be friends.
48. Similarly, several female students confirmed that they were summoned to the senior administrator’s office during class time to receive unsolicited dating advice. The senior administrator would ask female students who they were dating and then attempt to dissuade them from dating anyone that he felt “was going nowhere in life.” One student informed the Department that,
He [the senior administrator] did [call me down] . . . a lot. [He’d say] you’re so much better or you do so much better. That I was so smart and pretty. He’d call me down to tell me that.
49. The Department received numerous complaints from parents and teachers that the senior administrator disrupted female students from receiving instruction in the classroom by repeatedly calling the students out of the classroom during the school day for the above inappropriate reasons that were admittedly beyond the scope of the senior administrator’s defined duties.
50. Many parents the Department spoke with about their daughters being repeatedly called out of class indicated that they believed their daughters’ academic performance suffered as a result of the actions of respondent’s senior administrator.
51. Several parents indicated that they complained to the respondent that the conduct of the senior administrator was inappropriate, unacceptable and adversely impacting their daughters.
52. Multiple current and former teachers also informed the Department that they complained to respondent’s administration about the behavior of the senior administrator unnecessarily calling female students out of class to discuss personal issues.
53. The teachers informed the Department that the senior administrator would utilize pink slips (front office approved absence from class forms) for female students to come to his office
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throughout the day. Absences for doctor appointments and extracurricular activities were, alternatively, recorded on different colored slips by respondent.
54. The senior administrator’s issuance of pink slips to female students became so disruptive to the academic progress of female students that some teachers began keeping track of the amount of missed classroom instruction time of their female students by collecting the pink slips issued by the respondent – in some instances teachers held on to pink slips for several years.
55. Of the pink slips retained and provided by several of respondent’s teachers to the Department, 91% were issued to female students.
56. A comparison by the Department of the relevant pink slips and respondent’s disciplinary records confirmed that pink slips were very rarely utilized for disciplinary reasons.
57. During the 2012-2013 school year, one teacher documented receiving 11 pink slips excusing students’ absences for just one class. All 11 pink slips were given to female students and signed by the senior administrator. The teacher indicated that none of these pink slips were issued for disciplinary reasons.
58. Several teachers became so concerned about the consistency of female students being called out of class that the teachers took extra steps to inquire into the reasons for the female students’ absences. One teacher indicated that upon following up on one female’s absences, she was unable to confirm any justified reasons for the student being excused from class.
Other Sex-Based Inappropriate Behavior
59. Staff and students informed the Department that the senior administrator enforced the school’s dress code in a manner that was demeaning for female students and inconsistent with the respondent’s dress code policy.
60. Staff and students indicated they observed the senior administrator “ogle” female students “up and down” in the halls.
61. The senior administrator acknowledged to the Department that he reviewed and evaluated student attire inside his office, but he expressly asserted that he never did so alone – that his secretary was always present for such evaluations.
62. However, credible witness information indicated that the senior administrator’s practice of enforcing the school’s dress code was to ask female students into his office alone so that he could judge the appropriateness of the student’s attire.
63. One witness informed the Department that she was unnerved and embarrassed by the manner in which the senior administrator evaluated whether she had violated the school’s dress code. Specifically, the young woman stated,
When I wore my dress, [the senior administrator] made me turn and show my backside. It was inside his office. No one else was there.
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64. Staff and students informed the Department that the senior administrator routinely asked female students to turn around and bend over in front of him under the guise of determining if their skirts were too short.
65. Respondent’s Policy Manual states that “[s]tudents violating [its dress code] policy will be directed to make modifications in their clothing or will be sent home for the day.”
66. However, staff and students again confirmed that the senior administrator allowed his “favorite” female students to break the dress code policy. The witnesses indicated that the senior administrator’s favorites were girls that typically wore tight revealing clothes.
67. Several female students confirmed during the investigation that the senior administrator allowed them to remain in revealing dress without changing their clothes.
68. One student indicated that once when she was wearing “really” holey jeans where one could see “skin skin,” the senior administrator told her, “I’ll let you get away with it.” She admitted that the senior administrator would not punish her when she wore short skirts or revealing clothes in school.
69. The senior administrator also maintains perfumed lotions on the desk in his office. The lotions are positioned such that they are near where students sit in his office. Female students described the lotions to the Department as “girly.”
70. The senior administrator emphatically stated that the hand lotions were only for him and that he informed students that they were not to use the lotions.
71. Several female students, however, informed the Department that the senior administrator offered and allowed them to use the lotions. One student indicated that when she was in the senior administrator’s office the senior administrator would stop what he was doing and actively watch the student rub the lotion into her skin.
Public Displays of Affection Policy Enforcement
72. Several students informed the Department that they believed that the senior administrator more adversely disciplined homosexual students than heterosexual students under respondent’s public display of affection policy.
73. As discussed above, the respondent’s student handbook only provides a single-sentence rule on public displays of affection that states: “Overt displays of affection are prohibited.”
74. While respondent’s disciplinary policy does not specifically list public displays of affection as grounds for suspension, the policy does state that a first offense for “general misbehavior” can result in suspension but does not specify for how long the suspension can be imposed.
75. The respondent provided documentation to the Department over the last two-and-a-half school years concerning the enforcement of its public display of affection violations. Only four violations of the policy were documented by the respondent.
76. Two of the four violations involved lesbian students during the 2011-2012 school year. These students indicated they were each suspended for a day.
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77. The remaining two violations involved heterosexual public displays of affection and purportedly resulted in disciplinary action against only the male students – not the females. However, the Department was unable to confirm what type of discipline the male students received.
78. During the course of the investigation, the Department was additionally notified of several statements attributed to the senior administrator that would suggest bias or animosity toward homosexual students.
79. In examining the issue of whether the respondent discriminated against female students, the Commissioner first examines the issue of whether the conduct is severe and pervasive enough to constitute a hostile environment that interfered with the students’ access to education.
80. The Commissioner is satisfied that the conduct of the respondent administrator interfered with the students’ access to education, as explained below.
81. The conversations between the senior administrator and the female students concerning the sexual abuse the female students suffered is sufficient evidence to support a finding of discrimination by the respondent independent of any other evidence in the record.
82. The senior administrator is not a trained professional therapist or counselor and his conversations with the female students surrounding such topics were admittedly outside of his area of expertise.
83. Moreover, the senior administrator did not engage in those conversations to assist law enforcement or for the purpose of filing a maltreatment report.
84. The female students who were subjected to this invasion of their private lives felt traumatized and violated by the senior administrator to the point that it affected their ability to concentrate in class and diminished their desire to attend respondent’s school.
85. The conversations between the senior administrator and the female students on the use of birth control and their sexuality is also sufficient evidence to support a finding of discrimination by the respondent independent of any other evidence in the record.
86. Parents reported that the senior administrator readily acknowledged that he should not have had these conversations and that he had no good explanation for why he did not inform the parents of such conversations.
87. Further, similar to the conversations regarding sexual abuse, there appears to be no legitimate reason for the senior administrator to have engaged in these conversations.
88. Like the conversations concerning sexual abuse, the conversations about birth control and sexuality happened on numerous occasions with several students and left the students with difficulties concentrating in class and not wanting to attend respondent’s school.
89. The disruption of class time by the senior administrator, including but not limited to using pink slips, to routinely call female students out of class to have other conversations unrelated to his
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job duties is also sufficient evidence to support a finding of discrimination by the respondent independent of any other evidence in the record.
90. Again, similar to what was discussed above, several female students stated that they felt the actions of respondent administrator disrupted their ability to focus in the classroom and their desire to want to attend respondent’s school.
91. This finding by the Commissioner should not be understood to assert that each instance of a female student being called out of class is sufficient to find discrimination, but is rather based on the totality of the evidence concerning respondent administrator’s consistently calling female students out of class.
92. The issue of the respondent administrator’s enforcement of the respondent’s dress code policy and other concerning behavior presents a closer question as to whether the evidence is sufficient to support a finding of discrimination independent of other evidence in the record.3
93. The Commissioner need not address that issue in isolation in the present matter, however, given the amount of evidence of severe and pervasive inappropriate conduct by the senior administrator as discussed above.
94. The actions of the senior administrator disrupted female students’ access to the benefit of classroom instruction provided by the respondent’s educational institution and were in no way related to his job duties and entirely inconsistent with his professional training and credentials.
95. The Commissioner is also satisfied that the respondent was on notice of the alleged inappropriate conduct by the senior administrator.
96. The record indicates that the respondent was put on notice that there were concerns about the senior administrator creating a disruptive environment for female students by multiple students, multiple parents and multiple members of its faculty in multiple forums over several years. The Commissioner is satisfied that credible reports of discriminatory behavior were made to an “appropriate person,” as defined by Gebser v. Lago Vista Indep. Sch. Dist., 524 U.S. 274, 291 (1998); Plamp v. Mitchell Sch. Dist. No. 17-2, 565 F.3d 450 (8th Cir. 2009).
97. Despite the numerous complaints, the Department found little, if any, evidence of the respondent conducting investigations into the complaints. The investigation found no evidence of any reports being made by the respondent’s principal to its human rights officer. The failure of the respondent to comply with its harassment investigation policies leads the Commissioner to conclude that respondent did not act in good faith in responding to the above complaints.
98. For the above reasons, the Commissioner determines that there is sufficient evidence to find that the respondent illegally discriminated against students on the basis of their sex.
99. In examining the issue of whether the respondent discriminated against students on the basis of sexual orientation, the Commissioner finds that there is insufficient evidence of such
3 While not prohibited by the respondent’s policies, the Commissioner questions the appropriateness of allowing a school official to ascertain whether a student’s clothes are too sexually provocative to be worn in school while in the seclusion of the school official’s office and without any other school personnel present.
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discriminatory conduct occurring within the legal timeframe the Department can consider in order to support a finding of illegal discrimination.
100.The confirmed instances of differential enforcement of respondent’s public displays of affection policy against homosexual students occurred in the 2011-2012 school year.
101.While witnesses also notified the Department of other derogatory comments and actions pertaining to homosexual students, the Department was unable to corroborate those that were timely.
102.Therefore, although the Department found the evidence pertaining to this allegation to be very disconcerting, it is nonetheless unable to reach a finding of illegal discrimination on this basis.
The officals press release from the MNHR.
And an email I sent to superintendent Johnson this morning…..
Good morning Mr. Johnson,
As a parent of childern moving through ISD #701 I’m taken a back by your lack of concern in dealing with the Fleming situation.
Even though you consider this situation resolved, the community does not.
I understand this happened before you took the Superintendent job.
I also understand your stance on “let’s move forward.”
Although that stance is great in theory, in real life….. the actions of Mr. Fleming, and the lack of action by the previous superintendent, the current principal, and the school board as a whole are abhorrent.
You now are bearing the brunt of the communities outrage over how Flemings actions could’ve gone on for so long unchecked, and NOT dealt with.
However unfair you personally feel it is; it is something you have to deal with.
With all that said, you had to know you were going to have to deal with this situation one way or the other when you decided to take this job.
I do not envy your position; it’s literally being in between a rock and a hard place.
How you deal with the community now regarding this, will and can say a lot about you as a person moving forward in this job.
During the public interview process I asked you how you’d deal with the Fleming situation; since you stated in your previous job you dealt with a similar situation.
So far I’m not convinced you were truthful in your answer.
You stated you were the man to make the hard decisions, no matter what they might be.
Well Mr. Johnson, now is the time to show you’re willing to make those hard decisions.
A huge 1st step would be to attend the coalition meeting tonight.
Show the community you can take the heat!!
Answer what questions you can, let the public vent on you.
That’s what people need now more than ever; after the horrid unimaginable things that happened under the roof of once such a proud school.
My bigger advice to you Sir…. clean house!
Remove all school board member’s!!
Remove the current principle!!
Remove Fleming permently!!
If you truly want this situation to go away, this is the way to make it stop.
All the above people are responsible for what you are dealing with now.
You owe them nothing more than being held accountable, but they want to accept no responsibility for the grief you’re dealing with.
Make them ALL accountable for their lack of action regarding Fleming.
Make a statement to the children that were victimized by Mr. Fleming.
Make a statement to your educational staff.
Make a statement to this community.
Make a statement to the state of Minnesota.
Make a statement to the country, make no mistake, they all are watching.
Show them this kind of blatant disregard of following stated Hibbing High School rules of conduct, will have a high price to be paid under your leadership!!