Highland Park Middle School staffer placed on leave after 'racist' video surfaces

A Highland Park Middle School staff member has been placed on paid leave while the district reviews a video taken at the school that shows “racist and foul language” used by the staff member.

The school district calls the video that has been widely shared on social media "disturbing." 

Parents and students say it's actually a teacher who uses the offensive "n-word" to describe some students. 

Superintendent Joe Gothard released a video response Thursday in response to the incident. In it he says, "No matter the situation, foul and racist language has no place in SPPS. As educators, we have to be held to a higher standard and the situation represents a failure on our part." 

Parents of the students involved met with Highland Park staff Thursday in search of answers.

In a joint statement released Thursday after the video was shared on social media, St. Paul Public School Superintendent and Highland Park Principal Charl Hoff pledged to take “immediate, aggressive action to address this situation.”

St. Paul Public Schools statement

"I am writing to address a disturbing video taken at Highland Park Middle that was shared on social media. No matter the situation, the racist and foul language used by a staff member in the video has no place in Saint Paul Public Schools.

"The staff member is currently on administrative leave – which is standard practice – pending the outcome of a district review.

"We will work to understand what happened and take immediate, aggressive action to address this situation.

"Highland Park Middle School strives to provide a safe, respectful and welcoming environment for every single child -- and as educators, we must be held to the highest possible standard.

"The words and actions recorded in this video have caused harm to our Black students, their families and our entire school community. These actions go against Saint Paul Public Schools core values and its commitment to serving youth and families.

"We will not be silent in the face of racist language in our schools -- and we cannot perpetuate it. We will not make excuses for actions that hurt the students that we as educators have dedicated our lives to serve.

"Following this incident, we have a lot of work to do to repair harm and rebuild trust with our students and our community. We take that responsibility seriously. We offer a sincere apology for the actions that took place in our building on Wednesday.

"Thank you for supporting your child and Saint Paul Public Schools."