A screenshot of the since replaced Mankato Area Public Schools website showing all school board members except Abdi Sabrie, the only person of color ever elected to the Mankato school board.

Minnesota School Board Excludes Only Non-White Member

Treatment Of Abdi Sabrie Provides Yet Another Glimpse Of Challenges POC Face In Minnesota

Fellow edu-blogger Akiva, brought my attention to a jarring story out of Mankato Area Public Schools in South-Central Minnesota.


The must-read reporting by Becky Z. Dernbach of the Sahan Journal, details how for the past half year the only non-White school board member in the history of the district has been systematically excluded from the main photo of the board’s website.

Abdi Sabrie, an educator and a longtime resident of the Mankato area, said his repeated calls to update the website to be more representative of the board members were ignored for years by the rest of the board members and the superintendent, who are all white. Despite his frequent requests, a new photo went up in January that left him out altogether. Abdi asked both the superintendent and the board chair to take the photo down. But it stayed up.

After the murder of George Floyd an hour and a half north in Minneapolis, Mr. Sabrie took to Facebook:

Less than 24 hours later, the Mankato board chair responded on Facebook:

Mr. Sabrie’s comments are especially painful given the events of the past week, as a result of the horrific and unjust death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. However, it is important to note that Mr. Sabrie’s allegation that he was excluded from a school board photo is simply untrue.

Of course no alternative reason was provided. What seems to be a bridge too far for the other board members is Mr. Sabrie’s, originally from Somalia, dogged support for low-income and first-generation students:

Abdi said his exclusion from the website photo is not about him as an individual. ‘The only reason they are excluding me, it’s not per se about me, it’s about my advocacy for the students who are at a disadvantage in our public education.

As with so many groups in Education, fighting for the most historically disadvantaged populations is a bridge too far.


Written by Seth Saavedra

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