The Black Lives Matter chapter in St. Paul, Minnesota, announced March 3 that it planned to shut down a high school if authorities didn’t fire a specific teacher, but has since decided against doing so.
Black Lives Matter St. Paul leader Rashad Turner demanded Como Park Senior High School fire special-education teacher Theo Olson for Facebook posts he allegedly wrote March 1, KMSP reports.
However, after a “productive and positive conversation" with school district officials March 7, Turner reportedly decided to cancel the protests.
"Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) has made positive strides toward reducing the academic disparities between student groups, but significant work lies ahead,” superintendent Valeria Silva said in a statement. “This requires a shared responsibility: staff, students, families and the community all have critical roles to play.”
Olson's controversial comments were posted a few days before the local teacher’s union and St. Paul’s Public Schools struck a deal March 4 to hire 30 full-time staffers ranging from psychologists to social workers, City Pages reports. It is meant to address the school district’s disciplinary problems from a restorative justice framework as opposed to punitive.
While Olson did not specify a race, he wrote a Facebook post expressing frustration over his belief the district was not supporting teachers in dealing with "kids who won't quit gaming, setting up fights, selling drugs, whoring trains, or cyber bullying."
“Anyone care to explain to me the school-to-prison pipeline my colleagues and I have somehow created, or perpetuated, or not done enough to interrupt?” Olson allegedly wrote in another post. "Because if you can’t prove it, and campaigns you’ve waged to deconstruct adult authority in my building by enabling student misconduct, you seriously owe us real teachers an apology. Actually, an apology won’t cut it."
In response to Olson’s posts, Turner wrote on Facebook: “We have to be the ones to protect our children, they are under attack from the [St. Paul Federation of Teachers]. This same teacher, feels that the teachers should govern the school.”