Minneapolis School Board Approves Dedicated Space for Anishinabe Academy

Minneapolis School Board Approves Dedicated Space for Anishinabe Academy | Future Education Magazine


Source – MPR News

On Tuesday evening, the Minneapolis school board unanimously endorsed a resolution to create a committee tasked with finding a dedicated space for Anishinabe Academy, an elementary school serving about 250 American Indian students. For the past 14 years, Anishinabe Academy has shared a building with Anne Sullivan Middle School, which caters to a significantly larger student body. The resolution, aimed at securing a separate facility for Anishinabe Academy, garnered strong support from the community, with many advocates donning bright orange T-shirts to show their unity.

During the public comment section of the meeting, Alaia Butler, a student leader from Anishinabe Academy, emphasized the importance of bravery and a dedicated space for her school. She shared a traditional teaching about bravery represented by the bear and voiced the urgent need for Anishinabe to have its own building. Principal Laura Sullivan, who has led Anishinabe Academy for a decade, shared her vision for the school. She recounted a story told by her father, a longtime Minneapolis school educator, illustrating the struggles faced by their students and the transformative power of creating a space where children can thrive.

Safety Concerns Highlighted in Public Comments

The need for dedicated transportation was another critical issue addressed at the meeting. Louise Matson, executive director of the Division of Indian Work and vice-chair of the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors, wrote a letter expressing concerns about the safety of students sharing buses with Anne Sullivan students. She highlighted incidents of violence on the shared buses, urging the board to provide separate transportation for Anishinabe Academy students.

Jason Rodney, a special education assistant at Anishinabe Academy, was among the first to address the board during the public comment session. He stressed the volatility of the current transportation setup, citing severe threats, bullying, and harassment occurring on the buses. Rodney called for separate busing to ensure the safety and well-being of the younger elementary students.

Parent Diane Stand and her fourth-grade son Kaiden also voiced their concerns about the crowded and unsafe conditions on the buses. Kaiden shared his experiences of standing due to a lack of seats and witnessing fights, hoping for an improvement in the busing situation. Principal Sullivan confirmed these transportation issues and noted that while the district had proposed bus aides, she believed this solution would be ineffective without a stronger connection between the aides and the students.

Minneapolis School Board starts the process for finding a building for Anishinabe Academy

Board Members and Community Celebrate Resolution

As the evening progressed, the school board took up the resolution. Director Adriana Cerrillo, who played a key role in crafting the resolution as the board’s liaison to the American Indian community, introduced it by highlighting the harm and displacement experienced by Indigenous students. Cerrillo expressed her excitement about the future dedicated space for Anishinabe Academy, calling it an incredible vision not only for the district and state but for the nation as well.

Ira Jourdain, the sole American Indian member of the school board, thanked the community, especially the strong Native women, for their hard work and dedication. Director Collin Beachy also spoke in favor of the resolution, reflecting on his involvement in drafting the district’s land acknowledgment. Beachy emphasized the importance of taking action beyond words, expressing his satisfaction that the board was making a tangible commitment to the Indigenous students.

The resolution passed unanimously, initiating the formation of an advisory committee to identify a dedicated space for Anishinabe Academy. This decision marks a significant step towards providing a safe and supportive environment for the American Indian students of Minneapolis school, addressing both their educational and transportation needs.

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