Two-hour recess called at Edina School Board meeting following protests

Protesters use placards to hold up a flag outlining their demands for the Board.
Protesters use placards to hold up a flag outlining their demands for the Board.
Olivia Wegmann-Krider

An over-two-hour recess was called at the Edina School Board meeting on March 4 following vocalized outrage in solidarity with the students who held a walkout for Palestine on Oct. 24.


The American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) alongside the Council on America-Islamic Relations, Minnesota Chapter (CAIR Minnesota), Students for Justice in Palestine, Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC), and the Minnesota Anti-War Committee posted on Instagram last Sunday calling for the community to pack the School Board meeting. The post outlined five demands for the School Board: “[to] erase the suspensions from the students’ records, discipline students who assaulted pro-Palestine protestors during their walkout, allow students to wear clothing that shows support for Palestine, allow students to express solidarity with Palestine at school, [and] apologize to the students for wrongfully accusing them of antisemitism”.


The meeting started at 7 p.m. with Superintendent Dr. Stacie Stanley’s “Excellence in Action” segment, where she read out two letters of gratitude she received from Edina Public School parents. Then, Board Chair Erica Allenburg moved forward with Community Comments, noting the time limit of three minutes per speaker and 15 speakers to move forward with the agenda. “During the public comment period, our role as a Board is to listen, but this is not the place for the board to resolve any concerns, and as such no comments will be made from the board. Issues will potentially be referred to the superintendent for appropriate follow-up,” Allenburg said.


The first speaker was a parent of three EPS students who spoke in support of the Special Education and Talent Development staff, referencing the decisions to be made on district budget cuts later that evening.


The next speaker was Maysoon Wazwaz, from the AMP. “I’m here for one simple reason. And I think judging by the audience, you know why I’m here,” she said. “I’m here to ask you guys to stop. When are you going to apologize? I know that we’ve called [the district] and I know that we’ve emailed but we have yet to see a single apology for the suspension of students simply practicing their freedom of speech,” she said, as members of the crowd started clapping. As her three-minute timer came to an end, the audience roared in agreement with Maysoon Wazwaz who began to chant: “Edina schools you can’t hide, you better apologize.”


Maysoon Wazwaz addresses the Board during her three-minute block of community comments. (Olivia Wegmann-Krider)


The room was full. A vast majority of the audience was in attendance for protests, and only around two rows included Edina residents looking to discuss budget cuts.


At 7:11 p.m., the Board went into recess and protesters took over the floor, continuing to chant “Free Free Palestine” and “Hey Edina, you can’t hide” as various disagreements broke out between those who attended the meeting for budget cuts versus free speech advocates. Some advocates used the floor to tell their story.


Protesters chant during the recess. Chants included “Free Free Palestine” and “Hey Edina, you can’t hide”. (Olivia Wegmann-Krider)


“Why did we choose to disrupt this meeting? Why don’t we just sit and follow the rules?” Sana Wazwaz of the AMP said. “We are in this position in the first place because students protested peacefully. [This] would not have happened if students weren’t suspended for a peaceful protest. Second, we did go [to] every avenue they gave us. We called. We emailed. We showed up two months ago. I spoke at this very chair right here. I articulated all the reasons why [the] Edina School Board has violated these children’s rights to freedom of speech. I said, ‘I don’t care if it’s an Israeli student. I don’t care who it is that is exercising their First Amendment right. I will support the right to free speech no matter who it is.’ We gave them a chance.”


Others echoed the sentiment. “I’m gonna be honest, change doesn’t come from sitting quietly. I don’t know if we read the same history book, but I’m sorry, negotiations [are] not going to get them to listen,” Maysoon Wazwaz said.


At 7:41 p.m., Dr. Stanley came back to the podium to comment. ”Look folks, this is the thing,” she said. “We are now in active litigation. We have an [Office of Civil Rights] suit. We no longer can say anything until we are out of active litigation.” Protesters responded in disagreement, sharing a sentiment that Stanley’s statement was performative.


Protesters left the room at around 9:36 p.m. and the meeting restarted at around 9:49 p.m. when Board member Michael Birdman motioned to amend the agenda, skipping straight to budget cuts. With a second from Board member Dan Arom, the motion passed.


The meeting resumed with community comments where parents, alumni, and staff members of EPS talked about their experiences with departments facing the recommended cuts. After comments, the board moved onto discussion of the Fiscal Year 2025 Cost Containment Recommendations. “We’ve received so many emails over the past few weeks addressing budget cuts, and they, to me, were a great reminder of how amazing and outstanding our school district is, and why we want to keep it that way,” Allenburg said before the vote.


The School Board adjourned their meeting after approving the Cost Containment A-1 plan, the Pupil Transportation Vehicle Purchase, Policy 421, 515, 601, 602, and 613.

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