Kansans raise concerns after alleged racist comment from KS Education Commissioner

13 NEWS at 10 p.m.
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 5:11 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Some Kansans are concerned over comments made by Kansas Education Commissioner, Dr. Randy Watson.

Multiple people have told 13 NEWS that Dr. Randy Watson apparently made a racist remark during a state education conference last week.

Nis Wilbur says during Watson’s presentation he told a story from his childhood that had a racist remark targeted toward Native Americans.

“I was sad for my tribal people but I was also sad because I lost respect for Dr. Watson,” said Wilbur. “When a man with the influence of Dr. Watson says comments of that nature to educators all across the state, that becomes the standard of how educators can treat Native American children.”

Wilbur did not personally view the video, but when she and her friends learned of the comments, they voiced concerns to Kansas Board of Education members.

“Our native people have a long history of of racist maltreatment towards us at the hands of educators,” said Wilbur. “I thought it was important that our board of education understand this very delicate, very real, very serious situation of this juxtaposition between white privilege and Indian education.”

The presentation wasn’t made available to the public so 13 NEWS reached out to board member, Ann Mah.

Mah confirmed she has seen the video, and agrees what Dr. Watson said was entirely inappropriate.

She could not provide the exact phrasing, but said the board will meet Friday to discuss the situation further.

Nis Wilbur says she wants to see Dr. Watson face consequences for his actions, including termination.

“KSDE has a responsibility to Kansas kids and Kansas educators and that responsibility transcends their responsibility to Dr. Watson,” said Wilbur. “KSDE needs to send a very clear and powerful message with this, that racism in the classroom or in any education setting will not be tolerated.”

Board President, Jim Porter, told 13 NEWS that Dr. Watson has been communicating his apologies for what was said.

13 NEWS reached out to the Kansas Board of Education for a comment regarding the situation but we have not heard back.

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