KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Park Hill School District filed its response to a lawsuit against the district from parents regarding how it responded to a "start slavery again" petition from Park Hill South High School students.
The petition, which was created in September, was described as racial "discrimination or harassment" by Park Hill Superintendent Jeanette Cowherd.
The district responded by expelling one student and suspending three others until the 2022 summer school session.
One of the students involved in starting the petition was arrested after making a shooting threat against Park Hill South in October.
Parents of the students who faced disciplinary action responded by filing a lawsuit, stating that one student, who identifies as Black and Brazilian, had been bantering with another student.
The lawsuit requested judgment against the defendants for their damages, a preliminary injunction for the students to return to school and a permanent injunction removing the incident from school records.
In its response, the district requested the court deny the motion for a temporary restraining order and the preliminary injunction, which would allow the students to return to school.
According to the court document, the district said reinstatement of the students would interfere with its ability to impose discipline and would result in one student "walking the halls of the very school he talked about shooting up."
The student who created the petition while on a bus ride to a school football game said it was intended as a joke.
According to one student witness, those punished did not listen to the advice of other students who suggested they remove the petition.
“We had warned him and told him to delete it and he didn’t care. What had me even more angry is that all of the teammates in the group chat were trying to help them the best we could,” that student said according to the court document.
The district also claimed that the petition caused a "massive disruption not only to Park Hill South, but to the entire school district."
"I have been fighting fires all day. I have several girls crying and scared for their lives," a Park Hill South teacher wrote to Principal Dr. Kerrie Herren. "I have been doing a lot of counseling today and trying to give support."