Iola School Board responds to controversial message on parking space

Controversial Painting On The Iola High School Parking Lot

IOLA, Kan. – The Iola, Kansas School Board releases a statement concerning a parking space at the high school that was painted with what some interpret as racist messages.

The space was painted with the letters “WP” and “STK.” Those abbreviations are being interpreted by some as “White Power” and “Shoot to Kill.”

(Previous Story: Iola residents speak out over controversial message on parking space)

The Iola School Board President said he was disappointed to learn about the incident. The School Board released the following:

“The Board of Education for USD 257 believes in our vision statement. We must not miss this opportunity “to be an impactful force in a student’s life, empowering ALL to be productive citizens.” We expect our students and faculty to model the behavior of this statement.

It was a serious disappointment to learn of the actions that took place while painting the senior parking lot stalls. We do not condone hate speech or symbolism. We will support our students and their right to free speech, but it is a contentious line to walk. While student matters are protected under confidentiality, the discipline process is trying to link why these actions are hurtful and how it wounded our community.

We must seize this opportunity to shape a better life for our students and community, in an educational environment that is welcoming, safe, and inclusive. We must chart a path that heals.

We accept that this occurred on our watch and accept it is our duty to address it and use this as a learning opportunity. There will also be clear expectations set and supervision in place to monitor the senior painting of parking lot stalls, should it continue.

For faculty in our district that have expressed that they feel they have let these students down along their educational journey, we ask that you embrace this moment in the classroom to improve our district culture to include ALL students.

ALL students must feel respected and valued.

Sincerely, USD 257 Board of Education”