Makato School Board Considering Mediation to Resolve Dispute Related to Racism
The minority member of the Mankato School Board who levied accusations of racism at colleagues has requested the issue be resolved in state mediation.
Abdi Sabrie requested the board turn to the Bureau of Mediation Services for assistance with the matter. The BMS provides neutral alternative dispute resolution services including mediation and arbitration.
Though other board members have yet to respond specifically to whether or not they will participate in mediation, they have said they are committed to resolving the matter and improving relations and racial equity on the board.
Sabrie posted to social media a photo that he described as representing “racism in the boardroom.” The photo depicted the six members of the board as well as the school district’s superintendent and said that it was an example of “intentional exclusion” by his colleagues. He went on to say in his post “I feel their collective knees on my neck, I feel my humanity negated, my oath and function of public office blocked.”
In response to the post, Board Chair Darrent Wacker posted a statement on the school district’s Facebook page calling saying that Sabrie’s claim of being excluded from the photo was untrue. Wacker’s post was later deleted and he apologized for not acknowledging his colleagues' “experiences, pain, and challenges.” Three additional board members issued apologies in the coming days. One said Sabrie “opted out” of being in the photo and stated she should have seen that as a warning that the board was strained and that the photo should not have been posted.
Sabrie called the conflict “a prerequisite for progress” and hopes that the incident will lead to meaningful conversation. All parties involved agree a third-party mediator is likely the best way to resolve the conflict.