TOPEKA – The Kansas Board of Education plans to meet behind closed doors on Friday to discuss an “inappropriate” comment that Education Commissioner Randy Watson made earlier this month regarding Native Americans.
Two board members said they were aware of the comment but were unsure of the exact wording. The quote, posted on social media, failed to verify the Kansas Reflector.
“Something has happened and I expect to receive a full and complete report soon,” said board member Jim McNeiss, who represents part of Wichita. “And then the council will decide what it needs to do.”
A post on Facebook on February 15 attributed an insulting comment to Watson during a virtual conference held on February 14-15.
Board member An Ma, representing the Topeka area, said the report was not entirely accurate, but she confirmed that Watson had said something offensive about the American Indians.
“Let’s just say it was something we thought was inappropriate,” Mach said.
Ma said council members will meet at an executive session on Friday to discuss the situation. She refused to say what measures the council could take, as it is a personnel matter.
“People need to know that the council is taking this seriously and we will deal with it,” Ma said.
Kansas Reflector filed a request under the Kansas Open Records Act on Watson’s video during a conference on Feb. 14-15. KSDE spokeswoman Denise Kahler did not respond to a phone call or email requesting information for the story, except to ask to send a request for open records to someone else at the agency instead.
The state council elected Watson as education commissioner in 2014. He previously served as McPherson’s head of schools.
Ma said Watson’s insulting remarks were “completely” uncharacteristic. McNeiss said Watson was a model of “how you should behave.”
“I want to know the details,” McNeiss said. “I have great confidence that Randy Watson has achieved justice and respected key building blocks during his tenure as Commissioner. He has always been a strong defender of those who are not served and all children. “
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