Olathe North High School parents received a note from Principal Jason Herman on Wednesday alerting them to incidents of racial harassment between students and asking parents to speak to their children about tolerance.
In the email message, Herman referred to “several incidents” of student harassment based on race or ethnicity. While he did not go into details about the events, he indicated that many of the incidents occurred on social media.
He said that such behavior was in violation of the Student Code of Conduct and would be “swiftly” handled by administration. He also wrote that he had shared a similar message with students in an address he read in person.
In the address, he urged students to resist sharing “inaccurate” information when they are upset or trying to stick up for people on social media.
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“The sharing of inaccurate information without true knowledge of the events or the consequences does more harm than good in a challenging situation,” Herman said to students. “Your support for a friend or your frustration with how your peers are being treated is only made worse for all involved when you publically (sic) share inaccurate information.”
A person in the high school’s administrative office said Herman would be unavailable to speak to The Star on Wednesday.
The letter sent to parents, addressed to “Olathe North Families,” reads as follows:
“I wanted to make you aware of some very concerning behavior recently occurring at North. We have had several incidents in which students were harassed based on their race and/or ethnicity. This behavior is intolerable and will be handled swiftly by the staff and administration based on our Student Code of Conduct. I have attached below the announcement that I personally read to the entire student body this afternoon.
“I ask that you please speak to your child tonight about the importance of respecting everyone and our intolerance for any type of harassment. It is also important that students report any concerns immediately to an adult so that inappropriate behavior may be swiftly addressed and safety ensured.
“There has also been a significant amount of social media traffic that is inaccurate and is causing increased challenges. Your support in this area would also be greatly appreciated.
“ONHS has a proud tradition of a diverse population where everyone belongs. We will continue to ensure that all students feel safe and are treated with respect … it is the Eagle way and it is our expectation for all. Please assist us in having a follow-up conversation with your children.”
And the announcement Herman read to students:
“Recently there have been inappropriate and racially discriminatory exchanges among our students.
“Behavior like this will not be tolerated. This is not what we as Eagles stand for or believe in. It is certainly not our expectation for appropriate behavior.
“Eagles must always think before they speak, text, post or tweet. You are always representing North. You are always an Eagle. Make sure what you share values others and represents the kindness and compassion for which Olathe North Eagles are known and respected.
“Additionally, the sharing of inaccurate information without true knowledge of the events or the consequences does more harm than good in a challenging situation. Your support for a friend or your frustration with how your peers are being treated is only made worse for all involved when you publically share inaccurate Information. Again we want all students to share any concerns with a trusted adult at Olathe North
“In these difficult times it will always seem like it is getting worse before it gets better. Olathe North has always been known as a close family. We have to trust each other and work together to process through difficult times. I appreciate the opportunity to come to this school every day, as your principal, and can ensure you that we will together as a family get through this.”