Tuesday, December 10, 2013

indiana-style, teatard corruption caught by sunshine law disclosures in kansas city...,

kcstar | Backed by two of the most influential foundations in Kansas City, Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro and a state-hired consultant are planning the future of Kansas City Public Schools as a slate wiped clean.

Revelations in emails obtained by The Star and dating to April show a state education department eager to create a new school system, even as the long-beleaguered but stabilized district was preparing to celebrate its best academic improvement in years.

The electronic trail exposes a rushed bidding process, now criticized, that ultimately landed Indianapolis-based CEE-Trust a $385,000 contract to develop a long-range overhaul for the district’s failing schools.

Summer discussions in emails reveal Nicastro’s wish for a statewide district to gather poor-performing schools under new leadership, with an office for innovation and charter school expansion.

In mid-August, days before the state’s district report cards were to be released to the public showing a surprisingly high score for Kansas City, a CEE-Trust partner shared his talking points with Nicastro and staff debunking the performance of a district where 70 percent of the students still perform below proficiency.

“It suggests a conspiracy against our success,” said Kansas City Superintendent Steve Green.

Even as Green and his cabinet gathered in Jefferson City on Sept. 4 with Nicastro and staff to plead Kansas City’s case for provisional accreditation and a reprieve from state intervention, emails show Nicastro had other plans.

Three weeks earlier at the Kauffman Foundation, unknown to Green, Nicastro had introduced her planning team to the person she selected to lead a potential statewide district — Norman Ridder, who is retiring as superintendent of Springfield’s public schools.

Such a district typically would operate many of the state’s low-performing schools, many of them likely in Kansas City.