Student sues schools for homecoming week ‘wigger days’

Liz Goodwin
The Lookout

A former student at Red Wing High School in Minnesota is suing school officials for failing to stop a group of students from celebrating what they called "Wigger Day" during homecoming week in 2009.

The federal class action suit, available on Courthouse News, says that the school failed to protect Quera Pruitt, a black student who graduated in 2010, from discrimination by ignoring the racially-charged way of celebrating homecoming week.

The student council officially designated Sept. 30 as "Tropical Day." But Pruitt alleges that more than 60 upperclassmen instead declared it "Wigger Day," around a pejorative term formed by combing the words white and nigger. Those students wore "oversized sports jerseys, low-slung pants, baseball hats cocked to the side, and 'doo rags' on their heads," according to the suit.

Though the school is predominately white, Pruitt's lawyers say about 40 students suffered from the "racially hostile" environment created by "Wigger Day." The suit claims that Red Wing's principal knew that Wednesday of homecoming was "historically" called "Wigger Day" but didn't stop the students.

Pruitt says she felt extreme stress and depression, to the point that it led her to drop out of cheerleading and the student council, and almost made her stop going to school altogether. She is suing for damages. Her lawyer, Joshua Williams, tells The Lookout that Pruitt is now living in Little Rock, Arkansas, and attending community college. He added that the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights "imposed several remedial measures" on the district.

Red Wing School District Superintendent Karsten Anderson, who is named as a defendant in the suit, said in a statement to The Lookout that the district "denies the allegations that it has created a racially hostile environment and looks forward to meeting these allegations in court." He added that he couldn't comment further since the litigation is pending.

Department of Education Spokesman David Thomas says its Office for Civil Rights entered into an agreement with Red Wing School District to "take all steps necessary to ensure that African American students enrolled in the District are not subjected to a hostile environment on the basis of race, color, or national origin, and includes several specific actions by the District." They are still monitoring the district for compliance.