Shakopee School Board candidate hopes to bring diversity to board

By Amanda McKnight

Ibrahim Mohamed, former Shakopee Schools Somali cultural liaison, filed his paperwork Tuesday to run for Shakopee School Board this fall.

Mohamed was the district-wide Somali cultural liaison for 11 years before he left in January 2019 to become a counselor in the Rochester School District. He has wanted to run for Shakopee School Board for a long time, but as an employee of the district he wasn’t able to.

“I want to be sure others have a voice in making educational and administrative decisions. I want to bring the diversity perspective,” Mohamed said. “The diversity is very important. They will bring a different perspective, a different culture, a different thinking. And also 30% of Shakopee demographics are diverse. So these people will have a voice there.”

Shakopee has never elected a person of color to the school board, and Mohamed said he has the courage to change that.

“With my life experience as an educator, as an immigrant, I think this is the right time I can help out,” he said.

Mohamed immigrated to the United States from Somalia 27 years ago, at the age of 18. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from St. Mary’s University and a master’s degree in school counseling and psychology from the University of Wisconsin River Falls. More recently, he served two terms as president of the Shakopee Diversity Alliance and as a member of the Curriculum Advisory Board for Shakopee schools for three years.

Ibrahim Mohamed filed Monday to run for one of three open Shakopee School Board seats.

Mohamed acknowledges that being a school board member would be a challenge in the midst of a pandemic and the school’s financial crisis, but he believes his resiliency as an immigrant and fresh perspective is needed especially now.

“I’ve survived a lot of stuff,” he said. “I think this is the right time. I will transfer my life experience.”

With his 11 years of background working for the district and five children in Shakopee schools — two of whom have graduated — Mohamed said he can be a voice for English language learners, children with special needs, and other unique learners.

“Everyone is unique, so we have to take into consideration how they learn,” he said. “They’re diverse kids. I will serve them, I will help them. I did that as cultural liaison, so I know the challenges they have. And during COVID-19, nobody knows what they are going through for Somalis, Russians, Latinos, you know? In the school district there are 54 languages spoken. So I think I can make a difference.” 

Mohamed is one of three school board candidates for three open seats. Jeffrey Smith, who was a finalist in the running for a board appointment earlier this year, is also running, as is incumbent Tim Brophy. Brophy has served on the board since he was appointed in February. The filing period ends Tuesday, Aug. 11.

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