Bittman highlights ISD 728 stand on hate crimes, bullying

Superintendent Dan Bittman

Sen. Klobuchar also issues press statement in wake of Atlanta killings of 6 Asian American women

The loss of eight lives in Atlanta shootings on March 16, with six of the victims being Asian American women, touched off discussions and emotions throughout the nation, including schools and communities within in the Elk River Area School District, according to Superintendent Dan Bittman.

The superintendent in his regular report at the March 22 School Board meeting said it is essential that students and staff feel safe, welcomed and respected in their school and work places.

“The School Board policy explicitly prohibits any form of bullying, discrimination, harassment or violence, etc.” Bittman stated. “We strongly urge students and staff to report any such incidents to their principal or to the district’s executive director of human resources. We take all reports seriously, conduct comprehensive investigations, and take appropriate action based on the results of each investigation.”

Bittman also noted school staff are available to support students who are experiencing hate language, discrimination or violence. He  encouraged students to reach out to their school counselors, social workers or other trusted staff for support and available resources.

He also urged community members who are experiencing discrimination to report it to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights Discrimination Helpline: 1-833-454-0148 or http://mn.gov/mdhr/intake/.

“As a district, we condemn xenophobia, racism, violence and hate language against Asians, Asian Americans, Asian Pacific Islander communities, and all communities of color and indigenous peoples,” Bittman said, before listing the district’s stated core values that all people have value, that valuing and respecting differences strengthens the individual and the community, and that people thrive when they feel connected, supported and affirmed.

“We value and honor our district’s racial and cultural diversity, and we will continue to take an unwavering stand against any actions that seek to harm our children, employees, and the families we serve. We are all about all students,” he said.

Sen. Klobuchar issues statement on hate crimes following surge

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar issued a statement on March 23 in response to a surge in hate crimes.

“The attack in Georgia was horrifying and heartbreaking. The eight victims of this attack, six of whom were women of Asian descent, must never be forgotten. As Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta, said: ‘this is a crime against all of us.’ While there is still a lot we don’t know, it’s clear that this attack followed a year of increasing harassment and violence against the Asian American community. And when people inflict fear on one community in Minnesota, they inflict fear on all of us.”

Klobuchar said in a press release there have been 42 documented incidents of anti-Asian bias in our state over the past year. And that number represents only what has been reported.

“It is really important, as we have done so many times in Minnesota, that we stand together to denounce hate and take action,” she said.  

She met with Minnesota State Representative Samantha Vang; Hmong American Partnership Director of Program Strategies Hli Xjooj, interim Chief Operating Officer Dr. Mai Mua, and interim Executive Director Jodie Tanaka; Alliance of Minnesota Chinese Organizations President Bingwen Yan; Asian Women United Executive Director Claudia Waring; and Century Plaza owner Gloria Wong via Zoom to discuss the recent surge of hate crimes against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

“We have to make progress in our efforts to combat hate crimes, including advancing legislation I am cosponsoring with my friend, Sen. Mazie Hirono, to require the Department of Justice to invest the resources needed to fully investigate pandemic-related hate crimes against Asian Americans,” Klobuchar said.  “To live up to our values, we must do everything in our power to combat hatred and violence fueled by bigotry.

“We also know that easy access to guns can make hate deadly. That’s why we need to pass laws that ensure firearms don’t fall into the hands of people who should not have them. Congress can protect the Asian American community and all women by passing the Violence Against Women Act, which includes my bill to close to the boyfriend loophole once and for all.”

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