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Ss ares DEFINING EXCELLENCE September 21, 2017 Peter Kirsanow Commissioner U.S. Commission on Civil Rights 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20425 Dear Mr. Kirsanoy Tam writing in response to your letter dated August 24, 2017, that was sent to Leny Wallen-Friedman, who is the Chair of the School Board for Independent School District No. 273, Edina. As you stated in your letter, I recognize that you were writing as one member of the U. 8. Commission on Civil Rights, and not on behalf of the Commission as a whole. [want to assure that we have reviewed and investigated the assertions made in yous letter to the best of our ability based upon the limited information available. I also assure you that Edina Public Schools takes very seriously its obligations to not discriminate against individuals based upon any protected characteristic, and to recognize the free speech rights (and corresponding limitations) of those who attend or are employed by the School District. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we take very seriously our obligation to further the independent and critical thinking skills of our students. Although I am limited in what I can disclose to you based upon data privacy restrictions contained in Minnesota law, I can inform you of the following: We work with our teaching staff to ensure that sensitive topics are presented and discussed appropriately with students. That being said, there are times when, during the discussion of controversial topics, especially at the high school level, that provocative statements may be made by those involved in the discussion. Those statements can sometimes be taken out of context or attributed incorrectly. Elementary students are not being instructed about “white privilege.” We do not offer a class called “Race, Racism and Whiteness:” instead, the class is called “Race, Culture and Ethnicity.” The Black Student Union is open to all students. NiCommesistions ine SpsitiePolii vews\Comminsonert 92017 dx WECARE ¥ WE DARE ¥ WESHARE September 21, 2017 Commissioner Kirsanow Page 2 Finally, since your letter, the District has invited a team of attorneys to conduet training on employee and student free speech rights and limitations, which was attended by administrators and all high school staff. ‘Thank you, and please contact me should you have questions. eu John W. ae Ph.D. Superintendent NiCommaniatonssu-Spei\oltiea ews Coromasine i 920-17 doce "REACHING NATIONALLY © TEACHING PERSONALLY