Nicastro Says She Needs More Time to Decide on Kansas City District Action

Courtney Williams's picture
Monday, December 5, 2011

Too many competing ideas. Not enough legal authority. Regrettably, said Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro, that problematic mix compelled her to tell the State Board of Education Friday that she needed more time before she could recommend what to do about the Kansas City Public Schools.

But don’t take that delay to mean the situation isn’t dire, she said, nor that standing pat is an option for the district, which is still going to become unaccredited Jan. 1.

Nicastro read from a letter in which someone concerned over the future of the district urged the state school board not to let the district come under state intervention. Let a mayor-led collaborative marshal the community’s best interests, the letter writer said.

The letter sounded very much like some of the more than 500 letters and emails the state has received since it opened the future of the district to public input earlier this fall.

But this letter, she said, was written 10 years ago. The fall of 2001. When the district was once before seemingly at the end of its rope.

“The message (in the old letter) is the same,” Nicastro said. “Leave us alone. We will fix the problem.”

The children in Kansas City’s schools can’t wait out the problems as was asked of the children 10 years ago, she said.

“We pray we aren’t having this discussion 10 years from now,” she said.

Nicastro had hoped to recommend the state’s action at the board meeting in Branson, but because the community remains divided, making a choice now “would only add to the dysfunction and prolong the disruption for children and adults.”

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