‘Very uncomfortable’: Sartell student says she was asked to hide ‘equity survey’ from parents

Students were required to complete a survey as part of an $80,000 "equity audit" in the Sartell-St. Stephen School District.

Parents and community members gather for a Monday night school board meeting in Sartell to protest the district's partnership with Equity Alliance Minnesota.

Bipartisan grassroots campaigns pushing back against critical race theory (CRT) have occurred around America in 2021, from wealthy liberal enclaves to small Minnesota towns.

At a school board meeting this week held in Sartell, just north of Saint Cloud, the dialogue surrounding CRT-influenced curricula continued.

Community members again discussed Equity Alliance Minnesota (EAM), a left-wing group hired earlier this year for an $80,000 audit on “racial inequities” within the Sartell-St. Stephen School District.

Students were required to complete a survey for the audit but weren’t allowed to discuss its contents with their parents, according to student Haylee Yasgar.

“My teacher said that I could not skip any questions even when I didn’t understand them. One question asked us what gender we identify with. I was very confused along with a lot of other classmates,” Yasgar said during Monday night’s meeting.

She said students were told they could not “repeat any of the questions to our parents.”

“Being asked to hide this from my mom made me very uncomfortable, like I was doing something wrong,” she told the school board.

Parents remain concerned that the district, knowingly or not, is pursuing CRT and putting politics over educating children.

Despite the high school having ample space, a standing room crowd of more than 100 people crowded into the oldest gym in the district, a space lacking air conditioning on a hot evening and with poor audio.

Some in the audience felt board members struggled to consistently allot time to various speakers.

Defenders of the audit aimed their claims at enforcing anti-bullying rules and combating mental health issues. They did not specifically reference CRT.

“Bullying is going unchecked because discipline isn’t there, since the audit is taking away money and time from mental health issues,” Chris Yasgar, who’s leading a group of parents opposing the audit, claimed in response. “CRT advocates pretend the debate is about teaching racism and slavery. It’s designed to do the opposite. I think it’s a sign of their position’s weakness that they keep returning to this line.”

Yasgar spoke at Monday’s meeting and said several teachers in the district support his cause but fear retaliation from school administrators.

“My first question for you tonight surrounds the topic of data requests. We have data requests that are now weeks old, weeks, that have gone unanswered,” Yasgar said, referring to his request for a copy of the survey students were required to complete.

A Facebook group, Concerned Parents and Community of ISD 748, now has more than 1,000 members. A new website dedicated to putting students over politics is also active.

Yasgar will return to Saint Cloud’s KNSI Radio next week, accompanied by David Switzer, an economics professor at St. Cloud State University, who recently analyzed and made recommendations about the flawed EAM audit.