The U.S. Department of Education’s civil rights office opened an investigation into the Kearney School District after a parent filed a complaint in May.
Tiffaney Whitt’s complaint accuses the school district of discrimination and retaliation. Whitt, a mother of seven, has withdrawn her children from Kearney schools.
After his 15-year-old reported that another student at Kearney Junior High had written the N word on a class project and another student called him an insult, Whitt’s son was charged with ” inappropriately touching a female student.
Whitt filed the complaint after a review of surveillance video found no evidence of sexual harassment or assault by her child. She sat down with Assistant Superintendent Jeff Morrison to view the footage.
One of her children also received an anonymous threat referring to Emmett Till, and a message to her child on May 24 was alarming enough for Kearney Police to open an ongoing investigation.
The Civil Rights Office sent a letter to Whitt on September 16, confirming that he had opened an investigation into the school district.
The office will investigate whether the school district has engaged in discrimination or retaliation.
The letter says that opening an investigation does not mean that the Civil Rights Office has made a decision on the “merits of the complaint.”
Whitt included six incidents in his complaint:
- On April 6, 2021, another student used a racial slur and made offensive racist comments against her children while on a school bus.
- On April 30, 2021, another high school student called his eldest son a racial insult in a school parking lot while picking up his little brother.
- On May 13, 2021, a high school student typed a racial insult on one of her 15-year-old son’s group plans.
- On May 14, 2021, her 15-year-old son was called a racial insult by other students in the class.
- On May 14, 2021, the school district retaliated against his 15-year-old son by sanctioning him for an alleged violation of a student’s conduct.
- On May 24, 2021, her 15-year-old son received a death threat on Snapchat.
This is the latest in a series of racist incidents reported in Kansas City-area schools this year.
Earlier this week, Raytown Schools Superintendent Allan Markley said in a letter to parents and guardians that the district was aware of a Raytown High School teacher using the N word during a discussion with students in class.
Last week, Principal of Olathe South High School reassured parents and students that the school was “thoroughly investigating” a racist proposal to bring a student home, and he pledged to immediately remedy the incident “in accordance with our code of student conduct”.
Earlier this month, a racist petition calling for a return to slavery was posted online by students at Park Hill South High School.