District apologizes after only black students invited on trip - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Olathe district apologizes after only black students invited on trip

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Officials with the Olathe School District issued an apology Friday after only black students were invited on a school outing.

On Wednesday, a letter was sent to Olathe South High School students by Assistant Principal Candy Birch. In the letter, Birch said in her role as activities director that she wanted to give students an additional opportunity to connect with each other.

"So we are planning an outing open to our African-American sophomores and juniors," she wrote.

The event on April 5 would include a visit to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the American Jazz Museum, lunch at Arthur Bryant's and then a visit to the Nelson-Atkins Art Gallery to see the "History and Hope: Celebrating the Civil Rights Movement" exhibit.

Birch wrote that she hopes this would be "the first of several outings and activities in the future years."

The cost was $9 for admission to the 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District museums as well as the cost of lunch.

An upset student sent the letter to KCTV5, saying it was an outrage that the invitation was only extended to black students. Some parents said all students should have been afforded an opportunity to attend.

The superintendent's office agreed.

"The Olathe South administration would like to apologize for the misunderstanding," according to a district statement.

The letter went on to say, "As a district we are always looking for ways for our students to get connected and be involved, and unfortunately the letter suggested that this event was only open to African-American students. We would like to make clear that all students are welcome to attend this event."

The district has yet to make an in-school announcement clarifying that it's an open invitation.

Doug Bonney, legal advisor for the area ACLU, said inviting only African-American sophomores and juniors is discriminatory based on race. He said he didn't think any ill will was meant.

"I think the school's heart is in the right place. They're trying to provide an enrichment experience for these students," he said.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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