Iron Range teacher punished for comments regarding refugees

Christopher Lysaker's email to the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners said, “I am a Republican and would not be nice to any refugees.”


An elementary school teacher in the Nashwauk-Keewatin school district is facing a possible license suspension after a St. Louis County commissioner had reported the teacher last year to the district following comments disparaging refugees in a letter to the board.

Christopher Lysaker was given a five-year suspension on his teaching license by the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board. The suspension is stayed so long as he completes all of the requirements agreed upon over the next five years. If he doesn’t, his license will be suspended, or even possibly revoked.

The stipulations laid out by the board are:

  • Lysaker must not engage in any conduct that would violate the code of ethics for Minnesota teachers or be grounds for suspension or revocation of his license pursuant to Minnesota law.

  • He must complete racial bias counseling with an approved counselor. The counseling will be considered complete when the counselor believes Lysaker has successfully addressed his racial bias. He must attend a minimum of 12 counseling sessions.

If Lysaker doesn’t complete the racial bias counseling, the stay of suspension will be lifted and his license will be suspended for the remainder of the five-year term.
RELATED: St. Louis County commissioner reports teacher who 'would not be nice to any refugees' Teacher apologizes after St. Louis County Commissioner Patrick Boyle reported comments to school district.
Lysaker sent an email to the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners for public comment on May 26, 2020. The letter was in regards to the board's possible vote regarding the refugee resettlement program.

Lysaker’s email, with the subject “I am a teacher,” said he was opposed to refugee resettlement on the Iron Range and, “I am a Republican and would not be nice to any refugees.”


The school district was alerted to the email by St. Louis County Commissioner Patrick Boyle, who represents Duluth. After learning about the email, the district began an investigation into Lysaker’s conduct.

The district sent a letter on June 2, 2020, letting Lysaker know “the email reflected poorly on the district and was contrary to its missions to be welcoming, respectful and tolerant of all students’ beliefs, backgrounds, races and ethnicities.”

The district’s investigation included an investigation into Lysaker’s work-issued computer but found that the computer had been thoroughly wiped, altered and tampered with.

Lysaker told the News Tribune last year he regretted his comments.

"I didn't mean that. It has nothing to do with our district,” Chris Lysaker told the News Tribune in June 2020. “I have a good track record, and I'm a very good teacher. I made a mistake typing what I did on my phone."

According to Nashwauk-Keewatin’s website, Lysaker is still employed at the district as a fifth grade teacher.

Adelle Whitefoot is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.
What To Read Next
The system crashed earlier this month, grounding flights across the U.S.