Circulation of online petition against bullying, racism draws attention from AHS admin

Published 8:12 am Thursday, February 14, 2019

An online petition circulated around Austin High School is calling for administrators to take the allegations of harassment and racism occurring in the student body more seriously.

The petition that was posted on was created by a user named “AHS4Change” and calls for Austin High School officials to take allegations of “the use of racial slurs, racism and harassment at Austin High School” seriously, stating that the purpose of the petition was “informing them that AHS students are in support of REAL (sic) consequences for racism and harassment at Austin High School.”

This petition came out the same day that a racially charged altercation took place at Owatonna High School on Monday, which resulted in a lockdown, following a dispute among students which had stemmed from racially charged social media comments made over the weekend.

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According to FOX 9, the Owatonna Police Department stated that several white students posted racist comments directed toward black students at the school. The situation escalated during lunch, in which a racially derogatory name was used repeatedly. As of Wednesday, two students were charged for assaulting a peace officer as well as obstructing the legal process.

No specific incident was mentioned that prompted the creation of the petition by Austin High School students; however, Principal Andrea Malo stated that she and other district administrators were aware of the petition and that she had already met with the students who created the petition to listen to their concerns as of Wednesday.

“We’re working with our students in creating a positive environment and helping them have a voice,” Malo said. “Our kids want a safe place and a sense of belonging.”

Acknowledging what had happened over in Owatonna, Malo stated that the first priority is to ensure that all students felt safe in school.

“We have met with students, and our kids want a safe place to come and learn,” Malo said. “We want to make sure that we are meeting with students and establish pathways to create a positive environment when issues come up.”