A Johnson County school district is investigating after a student asked another to homecoming using a racist sign.
A photo of two white students holding the sign and smiling began circulating social media over the weekend, drawing much outrage.
The sign reads: “If I was Black I would be picking cotton but I’m white so I’m picking you for HOCO.”
Maggie Kolb, a spokeswoman for Olathe Public Schools told The Star on Sunday morning that the district became aware of the offensive post on social media early Friday evening.
In a letter sent to parents, Dale Longenecker, principal at Olathe South, said the school is investigating the incident connected to the school and is working to contact all those involved, including the guardians of the students with the sign.
The letter, which was provided to The Star by Kolb, read in part: “The type of behavior displayed in the social media post does not meet the expectations of our core values. Any behavior like this will be immediately addressed in accordance with our Student Code of Conduct.”
Isaiah Simmons, a linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals who grew up in Olathe, shared a post of the picture on Twitter.
“This is disgusting. Sad that people think this is funny or acceptable,” he wrote. “Very disappointing and honestly just sad to see this kind of stuff happening in my hometown. I hope this is handled in the correct manner.”
This is disgusting. Sad that people think this is funny or acceptable. Very disappointing and honestly just sad to see this kind of stuff happening in my hometown. I hope this is handled in the correct manner.. @olatheschools @OlatheSouthHS https://t.co/6if3OsONpE
— Isaiah Simmons (@isaiahsimmons25) September 25, 2021
University of Kansas Student Body President Niya McAdoo, an alumn of Olathe South, shared on Twitter: “I graduated from Olathe South - they tried to tell me and another Black girl we couldn’t wear our head wraps bc it was ‘district policy’ and after we fact checked the other Olathe schools and threatened to go to the news we got an apology the next day. Not surprised.”
Other racist incidents at Kansas City area schools
Earlier this month, a racist petition calling for a return of slavery was circulated online by students at Park Hill South High School.
“We are outraged, hurt and saddened that this occurred,” Principal Kerrie Herren said in a statement to the student body. “This is not who we want to be at Park Hill South. Our differences make us stronger. We do not tolerate discrimination or harassment.”
In July, The Lee’s Summit school board reinstated a teacher and coach, going against the superintendent’s recommendation that he be terminated after using a racial slur. Around the same time, a Harrisonville High School science teacher was fired in July by the school board after he was accused of making several inappropriate and racist comments.
In May, the Olathe school board unanimously agreed to fire Olathe North High School’s head baseball coach Pete Flood after he allegedly used a racial slur toward a Black player.
In April, Pembroke Hill School officials started an investigation to find out who wrote “KKK” on the side of a student desk — a couple of months after a swastika was found in a classroom on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.