Lewis Diuguid: Rancor in Lee’s Summit School District overpowers focus on educating children | The Kansas City Star

Lewis Diuguid: Rancor in Lee’s Summit School District overpowers focus on educating children | The Kansas City Star



The public rancor between the superintendent of the Lee’s Summit School District and a school board member sounds too much like the always brewing controversy embroiling the Kansas City School District of yesteryear.
Fortunately, the Kansas City school board is professional, non-meddling and much reformed. It even has a tentative contract agreement with a new superintendent as Kansas City Public Schools continues its struggles for full accreditation.
Lee’s Summit, on the other hand, is making the big headlines now. It’s as if the childish finger-pointing, blaming and name-calling from the Republican presidential race has spilled some of its toxic politics into the Kansas City suburb.
School Superintendent David McGehee and school board member Bill Baird have each asked the other to resign, which is unheard of in school district politics.
Baird charges that McGehee, the highest paid superintendent in Missouri, and school board leaders used closed meetings to discuss contracts that should have been approved in public meetings. Baird also asserts that McGehee’s involvement with a law firm working for the district has been improper, creating a conflict of interest.
McGehee is dating Shellie Guin, a partner in the law firm that does a lot of the district’s legal work.
A guiding rule that professionals in almost all fields follow is to be above even the appearance of a conflict of interest. That obviously wasn’t the case in Lee’s Summit, and there is no overlooking that or sweeping it under a rug.
McGehee is paid $397,000 annually, and negotiations on a new contract could include a raise. He was hired as superintendent in Lee’s Summit in 2006 having led the Raymore-Peculiar School District for years before that. The Lee’s Summit district is the 10th largest in the state with 17,700 students, 2,600 employees and a budget of about $231 million.
Baird was elected to the school board in 2014.
What’s clear is the brouhaha is a huge distraction from the work that should focus on providing the best education possible for children in the Lee’s Summit School District. People are lining up on different sides of this fight with some saying there were no violations of Missouri’s Sunshine law, board policies or any conflict of interest and others expressing grave doubts.
Those doubts need to be erased so that public trust in the schools can go back to being untarnished. Educating the children has to be the only priority.
That Donald Trump/Ted Cruz nastiness has no place in Lee’s Summit.








Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/lewis-diuguid/article67981432.html#storylink=cpy

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