Seven of eight incidents involving alleged harassment of Somali students in Minnesota schools have been determined to be unsubstantiated, a St. Cloud School District investigation finds.
The complaints were filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In some cases, board member Jerry Von Korff said, CAIR did not submit enough information to verify some of the claims.
"Some of them, there's no record of; we don't know who the students are," he said. "There was no way of tracking them down. One incident that was reported about meat being thrust in somebody's face, the students had no recollection of that occurring."
However, Kroff said the school board's findings did not rule out the possibility that the incidents CAIR filed occurred. "When you're investigating something, the fact that you don't substantiate something does not prove conclusively beyond a shadow of a doubt that it didn't happen."
The organization has a history of hyping alleged cases of anti-Muslim bias that turn out to be unfounded. In this case, St. Cloud schools did confirm several complaints of harassment not filed by CAIR, according to an official bias report released by the school system.
The results of the St. Cloud investigation come two months after CAIR sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education requesting a review of reported incidents of discrimination against Muslim students in Minnesota schools. The letter expressed concerns including accounts of bus drivers refusing to pick up Muslim students and a reported incident where two students put bacon and pork in the faces of Muslim students.
At the time of CAIR's complaint, then Superintendent Steve Jordahl said that no administrator was made aware of some of the incidents CAIR described in the letter and that the district would investigate the matter. Jordahl resigned in April commenting that he wanted to work in an environment that was "not quite so political." The St. Cloud Times wrote that CAIR's complaint "might have been the tipping point" for his resignation.
In March, representatives from the St. Cloud school district met with CAIR leaders to discuss CAIR's complaint with the U.S. Department of Education alleging that Muslim students in St. Cloud schools are in a hostile learning environment. At the meeting, St. Cloud schools designated a point person for CAIR to contact with further complaints.
If indeed the reports turn out to be false, this would not be the first time that CAIR called for an investigation into discrimination against Muslim students which turned out to have never occurred. In October 2008 CAIR sent out a press release calling on law enforcement to investigate an alleged assault on a Muslim student by a gunman in Illinois. One week later, it was determined that the college student fabricated the incident and was charged with filing a false police report.