Recently, parents in Minnesota’s Eastern Carver County school district received an “Equity Survey” via email from a company called the Culturally Responsive School Leadership Institute (CRSLI). The timing of the survey was interesting as the email landed in parents’ inboxes on May 30th, right before the close of the school year, when parents are busy with end-of-year school details.
The survey was sent in response to a petition that is circulating around the school district asking that more be done to combat racism in Eastern Carver County schools.
According to a report from KARE-TV, the school district has experienced several racist incidents including a middle-school student discovering the “N-word” scribbled on his shirt in December. In April, two white students were accused of placing faces of black students on a Google map and labeled the area on the map with the words “Negro Hill.” Other students were accused of wearing blackface at a football game, and another student wearing blackface was printed in the school’s yearbook.
The email along with the survey was sent out by Sherief Elabbady, who was listed on the CRSLI website as Chief Operating Officer, up until a few days ago. His photo and bio have since been removed from the website shortly after this article was published. The letter accompanying the email reads, “You have been invited to participate in a survey that will ultimately improve education in your district. The survey is titled: Eastern Carver County Public School Equity Audit. The survey should take approximately an hour of your time. To participate, please click on the button below.” It is signed by the “District Administrators and Research Team.”
Some parents who reached out to us questioned if the school district even had the authority to give their email addresses to a third party for school communications.
The survey contains 100 questions. Some of the questions contain grammatical errors and many of the questions appear to be based on feelings rather than facts and would be difficult for the average parent to answer. For example, one of the questions asks, “How many minority students, if any, do you think want to attend college?” Another question asks “Do you think teacher’s expectations for minority students [sic] higher or lower than their expectations for white students?” How can any parent answer these questions without knowing the individual situations, thoughts and intentions held by each teacher or minority student in the district? Here’s a sampling of some of other questions asked of parents on the survey:
Imagine if a question similar to #45 above was asked, “How capable, if at all, do you think teachers of color in this school are at teaching white students?” There would be cries of “racism” and “bigotry”. With this survey, the “equity” all goes in one direction.
Some of the questions on the survey are clumsily phrased, and some questions assume that parents in the district know who has money and who doesn’t. For example, question #33 reads, “Do you think the achievement of students from wealthy families [sic] higher or lower than the achievement of students from poor families in this school?”
Who is the CRSLI and why were they hired? We reached out to Eastern Carver Schools Superintendent Clint Christopher and asked him if the company was thoroughly vetted by the school district, what was the vetting process and how many other school districts in the State of Minnesota have hired the services of CRSLI.
Christopher told The Deplorable Housewives of the Midwest the school district will pay $26,125 a year over two years – a total of $52,250 for the services of CRSLI to conduct an equity survey in a school district that is 86.5% white.
We asked Christopher if the school district had the permission of the parents to give their private email addresses to a third party. Christopher responded, “This audit was contracted by the school district and Dr. (Muhammad) Khalifa and his team are working under that contract, so necessary information was shared in order to do this work on our behalf.”
As for the vetting process, Christopher said the district reviewed proposals from interested parties and selected a firm based on their background and the district’s needs. Christopher said within the State of Minnesota, one other school district has hired the services of CRSLI and three more districts are slated for audits in the upcoming school year. He did not specify which districts had hired or will hire CRSLI.
However, we are questioning if whether Eastern Carver County Schools really did its due diligence before hiring CRSLI.
The Deplorable Housewives of the Midwest did some quick research regarding CRSLI and what we found was concerning.
CRSLI has a P.O. Box address listed in St. Paul, Minnesota, however, its phone number has a 734 Michigan area code. We researched the CRSLI on both the Minnesota and Michigan Secretary of State websites and we could not find a listing for this company in either state. We looked on Guidestar as well as the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and could not find a listing there as well.
The CEO of CRSLI is Dr. Muhammad Khalifa. In a May 20th Eastern Carver School Board meeting video, Dr. Khalifa gave a presentation on CRSLI, and told board members, “There’s a process of unlearning that has to occur with school leaders to create space in their head and be able to relearn how to do things differently.”
School leaders need to unlearn and relearn? Is this some kind of indoctrination or brainwashing?
A photo of Dr. Khalifa speaking at a Muslim American Society-Islamic Circle of North America’s convention in Chicago appears on his Facebook page. According to the Explanatory Memorandum of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Circle of North America is listed 26th among the 29 affiliate organizations of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America. The Explanatory Memorandum of the Muslim Brotherhood was written in 1991 by a member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and outlined a strategic plan in the United States that involved “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.” Why would he be associated with a group that has been tied to the Muslim Brotherhood?
Sherief Elabbady, the Chief Operating Officer of CRSLI – who sent out the email to parents in the school district – has since scrubbed his anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian social media posts. The link to his Facebook page now reads Abu Maryam and all of his past posts no longer exist.
Not only was Elabbady the COO of CRSLI, but he is also a left-wing activist. He was the organizer of a large protest against President Trump at the Minneapolis St. Paul airport on January 29, 2017 after the President instituted a temporary restriction on immigration so the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security could make the vetting process of refugees more rigorous in an attempt to protect the United States of America and its citizens.
The banner photo on Elabbady’s Facebook page reads, “End Israel’s Occupation of Palestine”. The photo remains as the profile picture on his scrubbed website that now has the name of Maryam. There was also what appeared to be a wedding picture with the caption, “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine” dated December 6, 2017 on Elabbady’s old Facebook page. On that same day, President Donald Trump announced the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and ordered the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Elabbady didn’t hide his anti-Israel feelings. He reposted a letter from pro-football player Michael Bennett, Jr. who withdrew from an trip to Israel in 2017 which was hosted by the Israeli government because he didn’t want to be considered an ambassador of goodwill for Israel. The post was followed by another post by anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour, who is the former leader of the Women’s March and regularly writes anti-Semitic and anti-Trump tweets:
How can a person who has no problem expressing such strong feelings against Israel and the President of the United States work for a company that is being placed with the responsibility of achieving cultural healing of a school district?
We asked Superintendent Christopher if he felt the social media profiles of CRSLI executives could allow a fair equity audit among Eastern Carver County students. Christopher’s reply to our question was, “Dr. Khalifa is nationally-recognized as an expert in this field and we are confident that the results he provides will benefit all Eastern Carver County Students.” He did not address the social media posts of the CRSLI employees in his reply, nor did he seem concerned.
Parents need to do their own research to find out who is behind the companies that are sending them surveys and asking for personal information about themselves, their students or opinions on others. Attend school board meetings. Find out what is going on in your school district. Ask questions. Know what is going on in your child’s school district.
Given what we have found so far, we seriously question if a company like CRSLI can fairly perform an equity audit on behalf of a school district that will benefit all students.