Platte City Police Department officials continue to investigate a possible hate crime in which someone spouted racial slurs during a Platte County School District video conference last month. The FBI is also involved in the case.
During a telephone interview on June 8, Police Chief Joe Wellington said the department “continues to investigate” and officers are “waiting on some things” before more information can be released.
The investigation involves a May 13 online video meeting between new Platte County High School Principal Keith Jones and eighth- through 11th-grade students and their parents.
The meeting, hosted by Jones, was held to introduce him as a new face in the district, in which the upcoming school year will be his first in the district. Jones had been serving as a principal in Lawrence, Kan.
Wellington said investigators continue to search for information about what happened during the meeting in which several persons were heard making racial comments directed to Jones, who continued with the meeting and later reported the incident to district officials.
However, Wellington said he could not confirm or deny if those heard speaking at the meeting were four people, as was reported by the school in an email the night of the incident, and if those persons broke into the meeting or already were involved in the exchange.
“We don’t know that’s the case yet,” Wellington said.
He added that he does not know when information will be forthcoming.
On May 19, Wellington told The Landmark and other media that the FBI and local police are conducting “a joint investigation.” The bulk of the investigative leg work is being conducted by the local police department, he said.
Platte County R-3 School District communications director Laura Hulett said in an emailed statement that district officials “had not been contacted by the FBI” but are “cooperating with the Platte City Police Department and sharing information with PCPD that we receive to assist them with their investigation.”
The incident follows a string of race-related acts at the school district in which nooses have been found hanging in high school bathrooms and some students have reported being the subject of racial slurs from other students in school hallways.
Parents and staff have spoken at previous board of education meetings about problems with such harassment and asked board members and district officials to take some action.
Officials formed a task force to have input in the issues. As of deadline, Hulett and Superintendent Dr. Mike Reik had not responded by deadline to a reporter’s questions about whether task force members have been meeting the past few months, including remotely, or other recent activities of the group.