Principal Lorraine Cruz ousted
Two years ago, Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) reached out for help in dealing with academic and race relations problems at Richard Green Central Park School by hiring Lorraine Cruz — a top-notch educator and administrator — as principal. She was given a three-year contract beginning with the 2014-15 school year. Green Central, in South Minneapolis, is named after the first African American superintendent in the history of MPS.
The academics and race relations issues at Green Central, which I wrote about several years ago in this column, are blocking education for both Blacks and Whites. Minnesota’s high school graduation rate is 79 percent, ranking 33rd in the USA. The worst graduation rate is in Oregon, at 68.7 percent, and best is Iowa at 89.7 percent. Nationwide high school graduation rates are Whites at 85 percent, Blacks at 56 percent and Hispanics at 58 percent. It is a systemic problem for all.
Principal Cruz consulted with the community and with experts in the field. She aimed to meet the biggest community request, “access to Spanish” from “non-Latino families.” She made wholesale shifts and transfers to achieve a new direction for halting the deterioration in order to improve academic outcomes and race relations.
Forty-three personnel were transferred to enable more persons of color, primarily African Americans and Latinos. Minneapolis claims to stand for racial balance, but when Ms. Cruz actually brought it about it did not sit well with White educators nor White MPS administrators.
A group of upset White educators sent a five-page letter to the state commissioner of education. Recognizing that it contained false and slanderous accusations against Ms. Cruz, the commissioner rejected their letter.
A White associate superintendent and other White MPS administrators were involved in helping to craft the hateful letter sent to the state commissioner of education.
Recently, while home ill, an African American instructor was fired without consulting with or gaining concurrence from Ms. Cruz. The following Monday, January 26, 2015, Principal Cruz was removed and replaced by her White male assistant principal. This is highly unusual and contrary to the policy and protocol of MPS.
Two school board members stated that the principal has no tenure and could not expect any rights or protection. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney was the last to speak that way in his March 6, 1857 ruling: the infamous ”Dred Scott Decision,” offering what he thought would resolve tensions between the states but instead made them worse by ruling that Negros had no rights, even in Minnesota where Dred Scott lived, and thus Whites were not obligated to offer Negroes any rights, including freedom.
Principal Cruz, only halfway through her contract, has maintained silence and will continue to fight for quality education for all students, including students of color who attend Green Central. Due process is being denied to Principal Cruz.
The attempt to destroy education opportunities at Green Central and Ms. Cruz speaks volumes about the MPS process offering tacit endorsement for keeping the status quo at the expense of the education of White children as well as those of color. Special School District 1 continues to look the other way as the system of education continues to fail students of color, specifically African American and Latino/Hispanic.
The MPS demonstrates a high comfort level for destroying employees who fight for equal education. Who will stop the violating of education opportunities for children of color? Who will see that their parents receive a fair and adequate seat at the school’s decision table?
The Board of Education hides behind the calendar: Since January 1, the board changed the board meeting frequency policy from every week to once a month, leaving a lot less time to address community needs and questions.