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10-7-21 — Statement from the Superintendent

Oct. 7, 2021 ~ By now many of you are aware of a disturbing, racially-charged homecoming proposal that recently surfaced on social media. Let me be very clear that the behavior exhibited in this situation is unacceptable and does not reflect our core value of inclusivity.

In the days following the post, there has been a lot of conversation, and frankly, blatant and unfounded misinformation circulating online about how the incident is being handled. This information is not accurate, and I want to make sure to address it tonight.

As a district, we are governed by and adhere to the privacy laws in this country to protect our children. At the end of the day, the safety and education of our students is the most important priority we have as a district. It is this commitment that has led our work in addressing this situation with all families involved. What you are reading online is not a reflection of who we are as a school system, our values, our actions or how we handle tough situations.

The heart of our work is rooted in learning and growth. This has not only been a learning opportunity for all of us, but a driver to continue the important diversity and inclusion work that our system started several years ago. As a community and as a school district, we must take this opportunity to be better, and that starts with all of us.

We will not tolerate racial discrimination in our school district. With the current incident, we are working closely with all families involved and are honoring their wishes on how they would like the situation to be handled to best meet the safety and educational needs of their children.

We will not sweep situations like this under the rug. We will take care of our kids and do what is best for our students, staff and families. We are asking you to give us this opportunity to address the situation and work to find a solution with those who are directly involved in the incident. Rather than relying on what you read or hear online, we are asking all of our patrons who have concerns to reach out to our schools and district. We recognize that the concerns, perspectives and feelings our patrons are experiencing are real, and we value the opportunity to engage in conversation, understand and work through those experiences together. Our staff members are here for you and want to help clarify, listen to and understand your concerns. If you’re not sure who to contact, reach out to the Department of Diversity and Engagement. They can be found on our website or by emailing diversity@olatheschools.org.

We know that our past is not perfect and we cannot change the things that have already happened. What we can control, is how we move forward.