Feds open investigation into Edina Public Schools after Muslim students suspended for pro-Palestine chant

Federal officials are looking into possible discrimination at Edina Public Schools after two Muslim students were suspended last fall for using a controversial pro-Palestine chant.

The investigation, which was opened on Jan. 30, comes after the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights over the suspension.

Two Edina High School students were suspended for three days for chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” during a planned walkout on Oct. 25 to protest the war in Gaza.

Some interpret the phrase as a call for the destruction of Israel, while others say it’s a demand for justice and equality for Palestinians within their homeland.

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“We are encouraged by the swift action and the decision to investigate Edina Public Schools. This is a step towards achieving justice for those unjustly singled out and mistreated,” CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein said in a statement.

Edina Public Schools released a statement regarding the investigation:

Edina Public Schools is aware that the U.S. Department of Education has opened a Title VI discrimination investigation. The District would like to affirm its unwavering support for students’ First Amendment right to free expression and to peacefully advocate for causes that are important to them. Similarly, the District has strong policies prohibiting any type of discrimination against students based on their religion or any other basis protected under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. 

The District cannot comment on any particular students or allegations as that information would be considered private data protected by the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  However, students do not have unfettered First Amendment rights while on school property and students do not have a right under the First Amendment to engage in speech that is substantially disruptive or that violates District policies.  

Our core beliefs in Edina Public Schools are grounded in the inherent dignity of all people. We value and appreciate the diversity of all of our students. Edina Public Schools deeply condemns islamophobia and antisemitism. We will not tolerate hateful or inappropriate comments or behaviors and will work diligently to provide a safe and inclusive environment for our students and staff.

Edina Public Schools

Last month, the DOE opened an investigation into potential discrimination at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus after a professor and former regent raised claims of antisemitism at the school. An investigation into the University of Wisconsin-Madison was also opened last week, the DOE’s website shows.