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WDAY: The News Leader

Published October 13, 2011, 10:18 PM

Fargo family is frustrated at school district over racial remark

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- A Fargo family is frustrated the school district is not suspending an assistant principal for calling a black student a racially insensitive name. They think the reprimand is a slap on the wrist and are now threatening legal action.

By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- A Fargo family is frustrated the school district is not suspending an assistant principal for calling a black student a racially insensitive name. They think the reprimand is a slap on the wrist and are now threatening legal action.

Carmen Berry and her children just moved from Fergus Falls to Fargo a month ago. They say never before has anything this rude happened to them. Tonight, Berry is considering filing a lawsuit against the school district over the inappropriate incident.

MYRONE (Victim) - I don't think that's good enough.

Myrone Bell couldn't be angrier with administrators. First, one of them calls him a racially insensitive name.

MYRONE - I feel disrespected because I never disrespected him.

Then, that very man the Fargo South junior should look up to, is given what the 17 year old calls a lax punishment.

MYRONE - He can say whatever and they're just going to write him up again like he's getting written up like he was on the bus or something like that.

Assistant Principal Mike Nygaard called Myrone and a group of three other students, Buckwheats. He wanted them to remove their rosaries, worrying they may be gang related.

CARMEN (Victim’s mother) - If he called any kid, i don't care what it is, you don't call no kids out there names. He should know better.

Myrone's mother calls the rosaries a symbol of god. She wishes the serious situation would have been handled differently.

CARMEN - It really was insensitive. It's degrading. It's just not right.

The district is punishing Nygaard with a verbal and written reprimand. He'll have to go to sensitivity training and apologize.

NANCY (Fargo School District) - Is that enough? It's enough if it corrects the problem. If it doesn't correct the concern, then there will have to be a different kind of response.

School leaders say a student would get a similar punishment for name calling. This is the first such incident in district history. Although the victim is happy something was done, Myrone feels the racial remark will have a lasting impact.

MYRONE - I don't think that's fair what he said. He's an adult and he works with a lot of kids so i think it should be a way worse of a punishment than that because you're around many kids and no telling what you'll be saying then if you say it to one person, you'll say it to anybody.

Nygaard has been in the district since 2004. Before that, he was principal at Northern Cass and superintendent at Cass Valley North. This is Nygaard's only offense in his file. We could not reach him for comment.

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