Forestview Middle School teacher Kara Hall resigned Wednesday, June 3, after widespread concern over social media statements many deemed racist.
On Thursday, June 4, Hall issued the following statement addressed to the Brainerd community and Brainerd School District:
"I am sincerely apologetic for the outrage and pain I have caused this great community by my inappropriate comments to Kali Erin Wolhart on Facebook. I have respectfully resigned from my position after teaching middle school visual arts for the past 18 years. We tell our students to think before they speak, that words matter, and what we say will have consequences. I did not practice what I preached. Ms. Wolhart is a former student with whom I have maintained a positive relationship over the years, and I am deeply saddened by the impact of this situation on that relationship.
"Like most people in America, I was horrified by the murder of George Floyd. I included that statement in her post; an important piece she neglected to share. I believe in justice and equality, and recognize this terrible act is reflective of how far we have to go to achieve that goal. The posts that were widely shared regarding the aftermath of this unjust act did not reflect my care and concern for those most impacted. My words were terribly wrong. They were typed in a heated moment that I regret. Not because I lost a career I valued, but because it hurt community members and students for whom I have great respect and truly care about. I hope they will forgive me and give me a chance to move forward in a positive way. I want all of my students to know they mattered, and will always matter."
Brainerd Public Schools Superintendent Laine Larson issued the following statement Thursday:
“Recent events in our community, state, and country have us all on a rollercoaster ride, which I suspect no one wanted to take. First there was the disruption of a COVID-19 global pandemic and the requirement of distance learning for all. Then the tragic death of George Floyd set in motion a series of events in the Twin Cities and the world that will take a long time to process, including the troubling personal social media activity of a Brainerd Public School District employee. I am writing today to share what we at Brainerd Public Schools are doing to create a brighter, safer, and more just future for all.
“Last evening, Kara Hall, Forestview Middle School Art Teacher, submitted her resignation from teaching with Brainerd Public Schools, effective June 3, 2020. I am recommending the Board of Education accept this resignation at their regular meeting on Monday, June 8, 2020.
“The views she expressed on social media earlier this week are contrary to our District's mission to ‘ensure all students achieve their individual potential by providing the highest-quality programs and resources to prepare learners for an ever-changing global society.’ It is my expectation that every one of the over 1,200 employees at Brainerd Public Schools has a daily goal to affirm and carry out the belief that every student has an invaluable place in our organization and community.
“Brainerd Public Schools has been working systemically to create equity in all we do, from changing curriculum and instruction to training staff through research-based professional learning. We understand that there is still work to do to close gaps in learning that occur in predictable - and thus preventable - patterns according to race and socioeconomic status. This equity work remains essential and we as a school district are more committed to it than ever.
Thank you to community and staff members who reached out to share their concerns about the events of this week. It has been heartwarming to see such a deep commitment to making sure every single learner entrusted to us has caring teachers and staff who value them. The District is committed to taking matters seriously and acting on them in a fair and timely manner. Together, we pursue educational excellence while ensuring a safe environment.”
A group of community members who had planned a rally Thursday evening to advocate for Hall’s termination will still rally, but it will be a rally of support for the school district, organizers said. The rally is set for 6 p.m. at the intersection of Washington and Sixth streets in Brainerd.
This is a developing story. Check back at www.brainerddispatch.com for updates.