TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – USD 345 Board of Education President James Adams announced in a letter to the district that it is the school board’s intention to appoint a District Namesake Taskforce.
The District Namesake Taskforce will include students, staff, parents, alumni, community businesses and organizations. It will be responsible for gathering feedback and public reports and presenting a final recommendation to the school board.
“District leadership, building leadership, teachers and staff continue to work hand-in-hand with students of color to help us build an anti-racist school community. The equity and anti-racist work continues, apart from the discussions of our district’s namesake, through regular and ongoing meetings.”USD 345 Board of Education President James Adams
Adams said the board will take action on the district name after the work of the task force is complete and a final recommendation is made.
“No matter what our district is called, it is my hope that our community will remain strong and committed to what makes us special. We are a community with great support, love and care for each other, and a commitment to maximizing student achievement. The 100 year history of our district is more than our district’s namesake. I believe we will work through this as a school community and we will find an answer which celebrates our tradition and moves us forward, together.”USD 345 Board of Education President James Adams
Student journalists in the district found an article from 1925 showing that the founder, Fred Seaman, was a Ku Klux Klan leader. Senior students said their own beliefs do not line up with that original foundation.
Students started a petition to change the district name. It has over 38,000 signatures as of March 3rd.
The students also have a protest planned for March 15. This is also the same day as the next district board meeting. They are hoping by protesting at the meeting the school officials will discuss the name change.
Adams said at the March 15 board meeting, the school board will discuss a process around the district namesake that will ensure all members of our school community have an opportunity to be heard and represented in the discussion.