Park Hill School District hosts listening session with students, staff after racist petition circulates on social media

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — Students and staff in the Park Hill School District spent some time on Wednesday discussing their feelings about a racist incident that occurred within the Park Hill South High School community late last week.

Park Hill High School Principal Kerrie Herren said he became aware of the incident on Friday, which involved a student petition to bring back slavery.

Parents were invited to a meeting Monday night to voice their reaction to the incident. Among those in attendance was Julie Stutterheim, whose daughter is from Ethiopia. Stutterheim found out about the incident from her daughter who is a freshman at LEAD High School.

“Through her eyes, I see what she has to go through and, you know, the experiences she has that are different than what I experienced as a white kid,” explained Stutterheim.

Stutterheim has heard from people in the community defending the school district and rushing to say only a few people were involved in the incident. She said those comments take away from the conversation that needs to be had about why a petition of that nature is wrong and the consequences students should face to be held accountable.

“[The Park Hill School District] uses words like ‘zero tolerance policy’ but that doesn’t really mean anything. There’s a lot of tolerance for this type of behavior in my view. I would like to be able to tell my daughter that it was taken very seriously,” said Stutterheim.

Herren said the school is taking responsibility and working on a solution, but first is listening to families who were hurt by the incident.

“We promised our students we would provide an environment where they belong and feel safe and clearly we’re not there yet. So, this is another springboard to having some more legitimate conversations,” said Herren.

Terri Deayon is the <a href=”https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/oBElCG6A6WhJRDzA8CK_mZv?domain=phs.parkhill.k12.mo.us” target=”_blank”>Director of Access, Inclusion, and Family Engagement</a> for the Park Hill School District. She will lead talks between students, staff, parents, and the community.

“Listening will bring us a greater insight into the impact of the situation, which will then allow us to take appropriate and most effective action and next steps,” said Deayon.

Stutterheim said she wants the students who participated in the incident held accountable, but for there to also be education to prevent future incidents. She said speaking out about the incident is not an attempt to criticize, “it’s an attempt to make something better.”