ST. CLOUD - Leaders from the St. Cloud Area School District and the local Somali community met on Wednesday to have an open conversation about recent cultural tensions in area schools.

Superintendent Willie Jett and School Board Chair Dennis Whipple both met with the task force, which consisted of members of the Somali community, business people, students and parents.

Tensions were high last week after a group of about 100 Somali students protested outside of Tech High School. The protests had to do with a photo posted on the social media site “Snapchat” with an insensitive remark involving a Somali girl in a wheelchair, implying she was part of the Islamic State terrorist group.

Jett says the task force expressed concerns to the district, including a higher suspension rate in the district, bullying and harassment of Somali students, a lack of instructor diversity and concerns with the achievement gap.

"The task force expressed their concerns and the meeting was very productive-we were all working together and agreed that we would meet regulary in the future," Jett says.

Somali leader and former candidate for the St. Cloud Area School Board, Hassan Yussuf, was a part of the task force, he agreed that the meeting was productive and that the district was very open to hearing their concerns.

No specific action or policies were put into place during the meeting. Jett says the district simply wanted to have an open conversation with the task force.

Yussuf says the meeting has helped and tensions in the schools are going down.

"The schools are now very calm and everybody is back to class-we're very happy with how the meeting went."

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