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Demand for policy change at McPherson HS follows photo of racial slur on class project

Published: May. 6, 2021 at 11:25 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A group that included students, parents and teachers gathered outside the McPherson school district office on Thursday, May 6, demand policy change related to diversity and addressing the issue of racism. This comes days after a photo circulated on social media, showing a McPherson High School student holding up a class project with a racial slur, the N-word, welded onto it.

McPherson High School graduate Hailee McClenton, who is Black, said the recent photo is the latest example of a bigger issue at the school. She said she experienced some bullying and racism all four years at the school.

“You know, being called the N-word at school, all sorts of things. And then just seeing that a student felt safe enough in McPherson High School to weld the N-word on it and do it with school tools on school property during school hours, there needs to be accountability for that,” McClenton said.

This week, the McPherson school district told Eyewitness News that it’s taking the recent incident involving the racial slur on the class project seriously, but this isn’t the first incident the district’s had to address on the subject of racism.

In February, Black History Month displays were vandalized at McPherson High School with swastikas and phrases like “Black lives don’t matter.”

Fay Reed is among the teachers who joined the protest outside the district office on Thursday, calling for a change.

“I’ve actually had several students talk to me confidentially about the fact that they feel uncomfortable around students in the classroom,” Reed said. “And I’ve even had several students who have dropped out because they feel like they’re not comfortable or welcome to the school.”

The McPherson school district says its mission is to create a safe and inclusive environment at school. Toward keeping that mission, the district’s superintendent said he is considering diversity training for all students and teachers.

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