Superintendents comment on national events

John Richmeier
jrichmeier@leavenworthtimes.com

Local superintendents recently released messages addressing the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the subsequent unrest.

Lansing Superintendent Dan Wessel and Basehor-Linwood Superintendent David Howard did not specifically mention Floyd’s death in their messages. But they stated their messages were in response to recent events in the country.

Floyd died May 25 while in police custody. His death has sparked protests across the country and other parts of the world.

“I don’t believe racism is a political issue, and silence is not an option,” Lansing Superintendent Dan Wessel wrote in a message released Thursday.

The message, which was intended for students, parents and staff, was posted Thursday on the Lansing school district’s website.

“It is important to know that I, along with my Lansing USD 469 colleagues, are committed to equality, justice, and inclusion in all aspects of our school district,” Wessel wrote.

He wrote that the Lansing school district began diversity training this past school year for “administrators and a core group of employees, focusing on race and challenging our implicit biases.”

He said the training will be expanded to more staff members during the upcoming school year.

“We believe education plays a powerful role in overcoming injustice,” Wessel wrote. “We must work together to create safe and respectful spaces in our Lansing schools and community. We commit to facilitating open communication in our school community to end racism, oppression, and ignorance. We also request our parents and staff create open dialogue with your children about racism to break this cycle.”

Howard wrote, in a letter addressed to families in the Basehor-Linwood district, that his school system “strives to provide inclusive environments that work to be culturally responsive and encourage difficult conversations on racism, diversity and equality in and out of the classroom. It is my hope that this letter may even prompt critical conversations in your households, and around your community.”

Howard’s letter was posted on the Basehor-Linwood school district’s Facebook page June 5.

“Each student matters to us,” Howard wrote. “Each staff member matters. We encourage our students to speak up for what is right.”

Howard wrote that the Basehor-Linwood school district “will continue to educate our staff and students on becoming culturally responsive citizens.”

On June 8, Leavenworth Board of Education President Doug Darling read a statement during a meeting in which he said the “school district cherishes honest differences of opinion discussed in a civilized manner. It has experience dealing with students from all over this world representing many different races, creeds and political beliefs. However, racism and divisiveness have no place in our facilities, in our community, in this country, this state or this nation. It will not be tolerated.”

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR