OLATHE, Kan. — The Olathe School District said it is taking steps to make sure everyone in the district feels welcome after a racist homecoming sign surfaced on social media.
The photo appears to show a student asking a date to Olathe South’s homecoming. The sign says, “If I was Black I would be picking cotton, but I’m white so I’m picking you for HOCO?”
In a letter sent Thursday, Olathe Superintendent Dr. Brent Yeager said its Department of Diversity and Engagement is addressing immediate student concerns related to the sign. He said the district is also working to prevent racist behavior in the future.
“I am deeply saddened that this happened in our community. However, this should serve as message to all of us to come together, to create positive change. Creating an inclusive community is incumbent on all of us,” Yeager wrote.
He also said he met with a group of 20 students made up of representatives from each high school in the district this week. Yeager said the students are committed to change, but said they needed support from the community to improve race relations.
“As adults, we should be providing the tools and modeling to help students create a culture where this behavior isn’t acceptable,” Yeager said in the letter.
He also said that federal law prevents him from sharing details related to the students involved in the racist homecoming proposal, but that the district is committed to creating an inclusive and safe environment for everyone.
“Our school system is responsible for part of this work, but we need your help. Please talk to your children about the importance of treating all people with respect and dignity. Encourage open dialogue with your kids about these challenging topics,” Yeager said.