Lee’s Summit school superintendent seeks peace after public feud with board member | The Kansas City Star

Lee’s Summit school superintendent seeks peace after public feud with board member | The Kansas City Star



The top official of the Lee’s Summit School District issued a public apology Friday, seeking to make peace with a school board member after a week of feuding.
In a blog post, David McGehee, the highest-paid school superintendent in Missouri, asked school board member Bill Baird to “come back to the table for discussions about things that are truly important to the success of our school district.”
“I apologize. I forgive,” McGehee wrote.
The attempt at reconciliation came after several days of back-and-forth accusations between the two officials, who each called on the other to resign. Baird accused McGehee and board leadership of improperly handling contracts, including one involving a law firm where McGehee is dating a top attorney.
McGehee and others denied those claims. At the same time, the school district is negotiating a new contract with McGehee, which could include a raise in his $397,000 annual pay, the most in the state.
In the superintendent’s blog post Friday, McGehee wrote that he plans to continue in his position despite Baird’s call for him to resign.
“I strongly believe that my continued leadership is part of that equation,” he wrote. “So I hope we can get back to school business and find common ground on issues of concern while agreeing to disagree in a professional manner.”
McGehee wrote that he was disappointed that his and Baird’s differences became public.
“We have had a moment of public humility, but we do not have to continue down this path. You will not see calls for more drama played out in the court of public opinion from me,” McGehee wrote.
“It was important for me to ensure that the allegations of wrongdoing were corrected in this public forum. But I regret letting my emotions lure me into the drama of calling for resignations.”
After McGehee published his blog post on Friday, Baird responded with a written statement provided to The Star. Baird’s statement did not refer directly to McGehee’s apology, but called on district employees and teachers to contact board members directly with their own concerns.
McGehee also announced that he would temporarily ban himself from Twitter.
The dispute became public this week when Baird provided The Star with a letter in which he accused McGehee and board leaders of using closed meetings to discuss contracts that should have been approved in public view. Baird also complained that McGehee’s dealings with a law firm working for the district have been improper and called on the superintendent to resign.
McGehee took the unusual step of criticizing Baird in return and calling on him to resign instead. The exchange created a rare spectacle for any school district, where board members are elected by the voters and hire and fire superintendents.
The school board plans to hold a closed-door meeting Monday. The subject of the meeting is unknown.
Ian Cummings: 816-234-4633@Ian__Cummings
A STATEMENT FROM LEE’S SUMMIT SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER BILL BAIRD ON FRIDAY
To the Staff, Teachers, & Administration of Lee’s Summit Schools
I would like you to know I have fought for you with all my heart the last two years to be sure your voices are heard. Please ask your Team LS representative if I have tried to make a difference in your lives by taking on the management tactics of Dr. McGehee. “Top Down” management was used over and over again in the surveys and in our discussions. I have brought these issues and many others to Dr. McGehee, and his reaction has been that the Team LS surveys are not reliable and that I “put way too much stock in the information in the comments section…” I have talked to him about the lack of empowerment he gives the staff and administration and so much more. These are issues I will continue to work on. However, in the last year Dr. McGehee has violated laws, board policies, and much more.
Nearly all of the most recent problems revolve around who the district uses as legal counsel and the conflict of interest it creates. This is same legal counsel that negotiated his contract last year (on the board’s behalf), and the same legal counsel that made over $168,000 in fees from the district in 2015 (per the article). There are many things that I don’t agree with at the board level that I will work hard to make better, but these are taxpayers’ dollars, and these are laws and policies I am supposed to make sure the superintendent is abiding by. Board members have stated to me that going public makes us look bad, and we lose credibility. I am sorry to them for that, but mostly I would like to apologize to you. I apologize for making this public. I apologize that we are not a board that you can be proud of right now. And, yes I do feel we have lost credibility because we are allowing these things to happen on our watch. However, we are still a great school district.
Be assured that I have support on the school board level. The KC Star article does not tell the whole story. The other board members need to know how you feel, and they will do the right thing. So many teachers and staff have contacted me in private to show their support, but don’t want to go public for fear of repercussions. I totally understand. You don’t need to post publicly to support what I am doing. However, maybe you would direct message any board member that you know and let them know how you feel. I truly believe they want to do the right thing, but like many of you they worry about the repercussions. I still believe in them, but more importantly I believe in you. You are the ones that make this school district great. I believe that with all my heart. I have fiduciary duties that I owe to the taxpayers and must do my job, but it is the teachers, staff, administration, parents, and the students that I do not want to let down. Please message anyone that you can to let them know how you feel.
Sincerely, Bill Baird

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article68341017.html#storylink=cpy

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