School officials at a Kansas high school are under fire from parents and students who claim several racial harassment incidents over the school year weren’t taken seriously by administrators.
Kirubel Solomon, a sophomore at Olathe South High School in Olathe, Kansas, went public with his claims against his principal and other school officials he says have not done enough to protect the Black students, and this week dozens of supporters demonstrated on his behalf.
Solomon said that on May 4 he was given a flat piece of copper with the N-word engraved in it by three white students in his metal and jewelry-making class, according to Kansas City Star. He also said those same three white students have targeted and harassed him for months in the suburban Kanas City, Kansas, school.
Solomon said that he reported the incident to the principal Dale Longenecker along with the previous months of racial slurs and harassment. He said Longenecker only apologized and said that the behavior had no place at Olathe. He was then prompted to fill out an incident form with the vice principal.
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The vice principal suspended two of the white students involved from school for 10 days, Solomon says. The other student reportedly also received a few days of out-of-school suspension and has returned to class. The incident sparked community members to rally on his behalf after his story went public.
“I feel like it was weak,” Solomon told Kansas City Star on Friday. “Because the school punishes harder for lesser offenses in my opinion. Like vaping. They take vaping more seriously than racism in my opinion.”
Solomon also mentioned that he hasn’t returned back to the shop class and has stayed in the office because he would have to remain in class with his harassers once they return from suspension.
He also wasn’t the only student that has faced racial issues and had nothing done. Solomon’s sophomore classmate Jamya Haynes told the Kansas City Star at the protest that a classmate called her a racial slur a few weeks ago. She says reported it to her teacher, but she said he didn’t believe her at first.
“They sent our only Black staff member down to talk to me about it. And I don’t even know what happened. I don’t think (the student) got a punishment because he was back in class the next day,” said Haynes to Kansas City Star. “But at the school, it’s a normalized thing. It’s expected.”
About 50 parents, students, and community members gathered at the school district’s headquarters on Monday evening to demand change in leadership. They reportedly shouted “No justice, no school” and “Black students matter” while holding signs.
The students made a list of demands that included the firing of Olathe South High School Principal Dale Longenecker for a failure to properly address racism within the school. Their demands also wanted the district to initiate an investigation into its own practices for addressing racism, call for new disciplinary measures against racial discrimination and hate speech that have clear consequences, and a process of educating people on the impact of their racist behavior.
In addition, they are pushing for more diverse hirings, stronger diversity programs and training, a system that students would feel more comfortable reporting racial incidents, and a stronger collaboration with students as well as the community to tackle racial inequities, according to Kansas City Star.
Superintendent Brent Yeager sent out an email on Monday to ensure that the district has taken several steps toward improving equity and inclusivity. He highlighted how the district started a diversity and engagement advisory council in 2020 that has formed several staff affinity groups and helped push for better recruitment efforts to diversify the staff.
The district also reportedly hired an outside company to conduct an equity audit. He also said that the district began working on an update to its code of conduct that would give “more profound consequences for acts of racism, hate speech and racial slurs.”
Longenecker also sent out an email to the parents at Olathe South High School that reiterated district policies and said he couldn’t give any details about the incident due to a pending investigation but said it involved a student using a racial slur towards another student.
The students and parents said that they haven’t seen any real change and that the steps taken were not enough.
“It doesn’t even seem like it affects the school. It’s just like, ‘let’s send out an email, push it under the rug, school is almost out and next year we’ll move on,’” Haynes said to Kansas City Star. “My biggest fear is we’ll just forget about it next year, and we’ll be out here in another six months because something else will happen to another kid.”
One thought on “‘They Take Vaping More Serious’: Black Teen Claims 3 Students Gave Him a Piece Of Copper with the N-Word Engraved, Accuses School of Issuing ‘Weak’ Punishment ”
These cruelty acts towards our AFRICAN AMERICANS STUDENTS STAFF AND SOCIAL CIVILIAN NEEDS TO STOP A STRICTER PUNISHMENT SHOULD BE MADE . ITS TIME FOR RACISM TO BE DESTROYED AND SENTENCE TO ITS FEDERAL CRIMINAL CRIME I FEEL THAT RACISM TOWARDS AFRICAN AMERICANS SHOULD BE A FEDERAL CRIME PUNISHABLE AT LEVELS IF FOUND GUILTY TO 10 YEARS .