Blue Valley student wants more to be done after racist, antisemitic vandalism

Blue Valley senior Emma Sandler, second from left, helped nonprofit SevenDays distribute kindness baskets at school the week after racist and antisemitic graffiti was found at the school's football stadium. Photo via SevenDays.

A Blue Valley student is calling for the school district to take more strides toward positive inclusion of Jewish and other minority students in response to antisemitic and racist graffiti found spraypainted on Blue Valley High’s football stadium on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Blue Valley senior Emma Sandler, who is Jewish and also a youth leader with local nonprofit SevenDays, says she wants more education and discussion in schools about antisemitism and racism, which she says have been a long-standing problems not only in the Blue Valley School District but in the surrounding community, as well.

Sandler said the graffiti was not an isolated incident

  • During her time at Blue Valley High, Sandler said she has seen other students draw swastikas on school property, as well as write numbers on their arms in reference to the Holocaust.
  • While these past situations have been addressed by school officials, she said it has clearly not been enough to prevent more from happening.
  • “The Blue Valley School District is primarily white, and the minority students are uncomfortable,” Sandler said. “We are scared sometimes… and I think that it’s about time we have these conversations.”

District says it is looking into further steps

  • Since the vandalism was found, Blue Valley Chief Communications Officer Kristi McNerlin said Blue Valley High has made counselors available to talk with students who want additional support.
  • Blue Valley High Principal Charles Golden is also looking into Sandler’s request for more education and discussion, but an action plan has yet to be put in place, according to McNerlin.
  • “I think they’re taking some time first to look at what is it they want to accomplish as part of this work and who would be involved,” McNerlin said.
Racist and antisemitic graffiti was found on Blue Valley High's football stadium on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Racist and antisemitic vandalism was found on the press box of Blue Valley High’s football stadium on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Photo credit Nikki Lansford.

Local organizations are also offering support

  • The Jewish Community Relations Bureau|American Jewish Committee of Kansas City said the organization is “prepared to continue to work with the district” to provide support around responding to the vandalism.
  • In 2021, the group conducted training for Blue Valley administrators and principals on how to better understand and support Jewish students.
  • “We’re really trying to address antisemitism proactively through education,” JCRB|AJC Education and Program Director Sarah Markowitz told the Post.

No arrests have been made

  • As of Thursday morning, the vandalism remains under investigation, according to Overland Park Police spokesman Off. John Lacy.
  • Lacy said several juveniles have been interviewed, but an arrest report has not been sent to the district attorney’s office to the best of his knowledge.

Go deeper: Blue Valley High vandalism included swastika and slurs