Federal lawsuit claims Red Wing school dress up day was racist
A federal class-action lawsuit has been filed against the Red Wing school district alleging discrimination, negligence and violations of the Minnesota Human Rights Act during "Wangsta Days" in 2008 and 2009.
The lawsuit was filed by former Red Wing High School student Quera Pruitt on behalf of more than 40 others who are not named in the complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Minnesota.
Pruitt, who is black, claims she suffered depression as a result of racist school dress-up days, forcing her to stop participating in track, cheerleading and student council, the complaint alleges.
Pruitt also did not participate in her school's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day because she felt it was a farce, considered dropping out of school, and missed her senior prom due to depression, according to the complaint.
Superintendent Karsten Anderson and Red Wing High School Principal Beth Borgen were listed as defendants in the lawsuit against the district, as well as unnamed teachers and administrators.
The dress-up days in 2008 and 2009 were known as "Wigger Day" or "Wangsta Day," both pejorative terms related to white people who emulate African-American culture, according to the complaint.
Costumes included over-sized sports jerseys, low-slung pants, baseball caps cocked to the side, and "doo-rags." Some students displayed gang signs.
The six-count complaint alleges violations of federal funding regulations because of a racially hostile environment created in Red Wing High School by the dress-up days. The complaint also alleges race discrimination, negligence, and violations of the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
Pruitt seeks an amount exceeding $75,000, a declaratory judgment that the dress-up days conduct described in the complaint is unlawful, and a court order barring "Wigger Day" or "Wangster Day" from taking place on school property.
Pruitt requested a jury trial on the matter. A summons was issued Friday for Anderson, Borgen, and unnamed teachers and administrators, according to court records.
Red Wing Superintendent Karsten Anderson said that the district denies the allegations.