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Shawnee Mission North students stage walkout on Johnson Drive

SMN walkout
Posted at 11:51 AM, Nov 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-08 19:34:15-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — More than 100 students at Shawnee Mission North High School staged a walkout Monday morning.

The organizer of the walkout, Vaughn Wheat, told KSHB 41 News it was in response to a number of alleged sexual assaults that occurred on and off school property.

“This has happened so much already that we were like, 'you know what, something has to be done about this and if the administration won’t do it, we will,'" Wheat said.

Wheat said the walk out was sparked by what participating students call lack of action by the administration.

“Shouldn’t we feel safe at the school? They claim that we should feel safe, yet they don’t do anything," Niyya Negatu, a senior at the school, said. "They still let an assaulter walk in the hallway next to us, next to us in the classroom, and we still don’t feel safe."

Students held signs that said "We see you, we hear you, we believe you," "SMN protects predators" and "if you don't do something we will."

KSHB 41 News looked into the claims made by students. A spokesperson for the Overland Park Police Department said that the school's resource officer took a report involving two students on school property.

KSHB 41 News also submitted a Kansas Open Records Act request for that police report, but has not received it yet.

“There was a specific complaint that we learned about the first thing this morning and the administration is dealing with that. Generally, things like that, if there’s a complaint, we have a board policy on that and we haven’t had any of those incidents this year and so obviously there are things that we need to learn," Shawnee Mission School District spokesperson David Smith said.

Smith acknowledged a disconnect between students and staff at the high school. He went on to say conversations between both parties will be had to learn more.

“I know the building feels they’ve been responsive when things have been brought to their attention, so there’s a disconnect and we need to sit down and figure out what that is," Smith said.

The district's non-discrimination policy (policy AC) prohibits any form of discrimination or harassment toward anyone in the district no matter where it occurs. That would then be investigated by the school board.

Smith said no policy AC complaints have been filed this school year.

Despite the disconnect, students have demands for their school leaders.

“The administration should be helping victims of sexual assault get whatever closure they need to, whether that’s assistance pursuing legal action, that should be offered, counseling, anything that would help these people who are so many in number get what they need to live a happier and safe life," Wheat said.

However, the district said often times students and parents want to know what disciplinary actions were taken, if any were, but Smith said because of privacy issues, that information cannot be given out.