Olathe North coach terminated for using racial slurs

Rebecca Bayley

5/10/2021- Olathe, Kansas

Protesters call for firing of Olathe North baseball coach Pete Flood in front of Olathe North High School on Saturday, May 8.

Photo by Andrei Stoica

In a unanimous decision Monday, the Olathe School Board voted to uphold the recommendation of the district superintendent to immediately terminate baseball coach Pete Flood in response to reports that he used racial slurs when addressing a student.

The vote was part of a special session held by the board today in response to a statement made by an Olathe North parent on social media Friday morning. According to the statement, Flood used racial slurs when talking to a student during batting practice at a Thursday night baseball game.

School board president Joe Beveridge apologized to the family of the student and thanked them for reporting Flood’s behavior. He said that the district would “act swiftly to prevent this from happening ever again.” Beveridge added, “Anyone who demonstrates racism and bigotry like this has no place in our district.”

He also recommended the district evaluate its diversity training program for teachers, staff, coaches, and students. “You can and should expect more from the Olathe School District. We will learn from this, and we will be better in the future,” he said.

Another school board member highlighted the importance of speaking up when witnessing racist behavior, citing the phrase “silence is acceptance.”

There was no discussion during today’s meeting of whether Flood would be eligible for employment in other districts following his termination.

Community demands for this decision have been evident since the parent’s statement was published on social media Friday morning. In addition to an outpouring of comments on social media that were in support of the family and in favor of terminating Flood, on Saturday afternoon, families rallied in front of Olathe North High School in an event organized by The Miller Dream, LLC along with other local groups. Demonstrators set up signs for passing cars and chanted phrases including, “End white silence about racist violence,” “Black lives matter in our schools,” and “Today is the day racism goes away.”

A representative of The Miller Dream stated that the purpose of the protest was to call for the immediate termination of Pete Flood, along with other reparative measures for the incident, including a public apology and mental health resources provided by the school district for those harmed by the incident.

According to a statement issued by Olathe Public Schools, at the time of the protest, Flood was on administrative leave, and the district had issued a recommendation for his termination to the Olathe School Board.

“Although there has been a recommendation [to terminate Flood],” a representative of The Miller Dream said, “We’re here standing to basically push for accountability with the schools for a zero-tolerance policy for racism.”

They added, “We’re also demanding that there’s an independent investigation into this matter, because we’re aware that these incidents occur more frequently than most know in our communities.”

Other incidents of racial harassment & discrimination cited by parents of local students include the 2017 case of a Blue Valley school district student being excluded from a dance performance because of her dark skin and the Shawnee Mission school district community’s call in 2020 for the dismissal of a principal who allegedly made racist remarks.

The Olathe School Board’s decision to terminate Flood during today’s session addressed some of the concerns raised by Saturday’s protestors, most notably the termination of the coach and the public statement of apology. Others, like the request for mental health resources for those impacted by the incident and an independent investigation of the incident, were not directly addressed.

Published on: 5/11/2021