Bus driver used racist language in front of Kansas City middle schoolers, principal says

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The principal of a Kansas City middle school in the Park Hill School District informed families this week of an incident captured on video that shows a bus driver using “racist, inappropriate language” in front of children.

Chris Early, principal of Congress Middle School, told the community in a letter obtained by The Star on Tuesday that the incident occurred on the school bus Monday afternoon. He said school administrators became aware after videos of the encounter were shared by the families of children enrolled there.

“In the video that families shared with us, the bus driver used racist, inappropriate language in responding to a student who used similar language,” the principal wrote in the letter, adding that the company that manages the district’s bus drivers was also made aware of what transpired.

Early said the district is following its policies concerning discipline of the student who allegedly used racist language as well. He also said the district has told the bus company, First Student, that “we do not want this driver to work on any routes for the Park Hill School District anymore.”

Few details were immediately available Tuesday night, including what exactly was said on the bus. A spokeswoman for Park Hill did not immediately respond to The Star’s request for comment. The school bus company did not immediately respond to an email from The Star.

The middle school, located at 8150 N. Congress Ave., is part of the Park Hill School District, which has been at the center of a recent racially charged controversy after students at the Park Hill South High School began an online petition calling for slavery to be reinstated. Outcry over the petition eventually led to the expulsion of one student and 180-day suspensions for three others; parents of the punished students are suing the school district.

In response to the incident on the school bus this week, Early said the district is deploying a “culturally responsive crisis team” to offer support for affected students and staff. A staff member will also be on the bus over the coming weeks to provide additional supervision and support.

In the letter, Early thanked families who shared the video “so that we could respond appropriately to make sure our buses are safe for all our students.”

The Star’s Aarón Torres contributed to this report.

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