Calls for change from Hmong community in SPPS, superintendent responds
Calls for change from parents and students were met by a commitment to action from the St. Paul Public Schools superintendent.
In Tuesday’s school board meeting, the vast majority of public comments came from those in the Hmong community.
“What we’re hoping for is that the district really involves families,” Shela Her, an SPPS parent, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS ahead of the board meeting.
She, and others with similar messages, want the Hmong language and studies curriculum taught in one location. Right now, students are split between the Txuj Ci Upper and Lower Campus and an early childhood building.
“Our Hmong community, we are very, very family oriented. So we want to keep our kids together and the siblings themselves, they want to stay together,” Mee Moua, another SPPS parent, said.
“We want to get rid of invisibility, we want to be treated equal. We want to be seen and heard for [the] Hmong community,” Moua added.
A couple of students who are a part of Harding High School’s Hmong Club spoke to the board, stressing that they feel unheard.
While not on the agenda, Superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard addressed some of the concerns shared.
“I think for me as an individual I’m sorry. I’m sorry to our Txuj Ci, Phalen Lake previous campus that we’ve let you down,” Dr. Gothard said.
“I was at Txuj Ci very recently and some of the very things I heard parents say tonight were brought up,” said Dr. Gothard.
He adds just this week, a group started to meet to start working towards solutions.
“You have the commitment of me, and the team, and therefore the board,” Dr. Gothard said. “I really want to see, we really want to see this program succeed and we really want to see our families feel like this is in fact their district.”
Another demand from parents was for the district to hire a Hmong Cultural Specialist, something they said they haven’t had in months. In a statement, a SPPS spokesperson shared:
This position will be reposted ASAP to find a new Hmong cultural specialist who will work closely with our Hmong families. In the meantime, other staff in the Office of Family Engagement are supporting the work of the Hmong PAC until a new specialist is hired.