South Dakota is home to the largest population of people of color in the United States.
That includes about one in six black people and one in nine Native American people.
The state has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the nation, and it has one the lowest levels of violent crime, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey.
But the South Dakota School Board has been facing pressure to address the racial inequities at its high schools and to hold school leaders accountable for their actions.
One of the students who spoke to NBC News, a 17-year-old African American girl, said she was angry and hurt by what she heard from her teachers.
“I think they need to step down,” she said.
The teen said her teachers had been “in denial” about racism.
“They just kept telling me I wasn’t racist,” she told NBC News.
“That was really painful.”
When the teen spoke to the South Dade School Board in November, she said she did not want to talk to reporters, but she did want to share her story with her school.
“You know, I feel like I’ve been silenced, like I’m not heard, that I’m in trouble,” she recalled saying to the board.
“The school has never been like this.”
In a statement to NBC, South Dakota Superintendent Richard Anderson said the school board’s decision was “consistent with our commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity.”
The statement also said the board has already taken steps to address racial inequity at the high schools.
“We have made progress and are on track to address many of the concerns the student raised,” the statement read.
But it did not specify when those steps would be made.
“Our focus now is on making sure all of our schools are safe for all students, students of color, and other vulnerable students,” Anderson wrote.
The South Dakota Board of Education will consider the student’s allegations on April 3, according the district.