Red Wing School District seeks dismissal of 'Wangsta' lawsuit
MINNEAPOLIS — The Red Wing School District is seeking dismissal of a civil rights lawsuit that stems from a 2009 homecoming week dress-up day in which white students attempted to mimic black culture.
The so-called "Wigger Day" or "Wangsta Day," — organized by a group of upperclassmen in place of a student council-designated "Tropical Day" — reflected negligence by school officials and violated the U.S. Civil Rights Act and Minnesota Human Rights Act, according to the class-action lawsuit filed by former Red Wing High School student Quera Pruitt.
The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Minnesota last month does not allege intentional discrimination as required by the U.S. Civil Rights Act, the district's attorney said in a response filed Monday.
The complaint also fails to establish that students wearing hip-hop clothing "was so severe, pervasive or objectively offensive that it deprived her (Pruitt) of any educational opportunities," wrote the district's attorney, Morgan Godfrey.
The complaint, which alludes to more than 40 possible co-plaintiffs but does not name them, said the dress-up day also happened in 2008.
Pruitt's attorneys said she suffered depression as a result of the dress-up days, forcing her to stop participating in track, cheerleading and student council. She also missed her senior prom and did not participate in her school's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities.
Allegations that district employees failed to take steps to provide Pruitt with an educational atmosphere free from discrimination do not specify a violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, according to the district's response to her complaint.
Pruitt's claim also falls outside a one-year statute of limitations outlined in the act, Godfrey said.
Pruitt sought damages in excess of $75,000, but Godfrey argued that she did not present a claim for which a money award could be granted.
Superintendent Karsten Anderson was not employed by the district at the time of the alleged violations, so claims against him should be dismissed on that basis alone, Godfrey said.
Claims against Red Wing High School Principal Beth Borgen, unnamed John and Jane Does, and the school district should also be dismissed, he said.
The district's motion to dismiss the lawsuit will be argued on Oct. 14 in front of Judge David Doty in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
School district response to Wigger Day complaint
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