Ferguson-Florissant School District | St. Louis Public Radio

Ferguson-Florissant School District

Joseph Davis superintendent candidate 1.29.15
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Updated 3:50 p.m. Friday with Davis released from county jail  — Ferguson-Florissant schools Superintendent Joseph Davis is charged with fraud for allegedly using a credit card from his previous North Carolina school district in January.

Davis has been with the St. Louis-area district since 2015.

Davis was arrested Wednesday by St. Louis County police based on a May indictment from a grand jury in Washington County, North Carolina. That document accuses Davis of using a Washington County Schools credit card to pay for a hotel room and rental car on Jan. 15.

East St. Louis instructional coach Tracee Wells taught AVID to Chaya Cary, 16. Cary is studying at Southwestern Illinois College in the fall of 2017. "We don't hear enough about these kinds of stories coming out of East St. Louis," Wells said.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Belleville’s two public high schools have doubled the number of low-income students and students of color in advanced placement courses in the coming school year — part of a statewide goal to enroll 100,000 underrepresented students in such classes by 2019.

And East St. Louis Senior High is encouraging students to try more rigorous coursework even if they aren’t the top students.

Experts say high schoolers who take challenging classes have a leg up in college. But studies show black students, Latino students and low-income students are less likely to take them.

Campers listen to Katie Dreas of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service explain foliage during a summer camp at Little Creek Nature Center on July 17, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Children benefit from a balanced diet of screen time and outdoors time, studies show.

In the St. Louis area, several camps and summer youth jobs focus on environmental education and exploration. St. Louis Public Radio visited a smattering of them to see what kids are learning.

Hazelwood West seniors Yonnas Wole, Richard Spivey and Mallory Bachheit talk while they wait for district administrators to respond to their call for a meeting on Thurs., May 18, 2017.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

A semester after changes to Missouri’s criminal code sparked concern that school fights could result in felony charges, St. Louis-area school districts say there’s been little impact.

Yet, several districts have amended or are working to update discipline policies and behavior programs partly in response to the new law.

Clockwise from left: Incumbents Rob Chabot and Donna Thurman, along with first-time candidates Jessica Ponder, Donna Dameron and Roger Hines, are running for the Ferguson-Florissant school board on April 4, 2017.
Ferguson-Florissant School District

The Ferguson-Florissant school board election Tuesday will use a voting system a federal judge ruled unconstitutional last year.

The judge ruled that method unfair to African-Americans and ordered the district to implement cumulative voting, which allows for as many votes to be cast as there are seats up for election. Those votes may all be cast for the same candidate or may be spread around as a voter sees fit.

But because the district appealed, this year’s election is still operating under the old, at-large system. That means, with five candidates running for three open board seats, residents will cast one vote for each of the three candidates they like.

File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7:01 p.m. Jan. 05 with response from the court — Ferguson-Florissant's April school board elections will operate under its old at-large system. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the NAACP's request to switch to the cumulative voting method a federal judge ordered earlier in the voting rights case. 

Patrick Henry Elementary School in St. Louis.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

One day before filing for the spring election begins, the Ferguson-Florissant school board announced Monday that it will appeal a federal judge’s ruling changing how board members in the district are elected.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel last month ordered that members of the board of the north St. Louis County district should be elected with cumulative voting, in an effort to achieve racial balance. He said that the current system of electing all board members at large “is legally unacceptable.”

File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 22 with comments from plaintiff Willis Johnson. — A federal judge has ordered the Ferguson-Florissant School District to vote for its board members using cumulative voting.

Judge Rodney Sippel's order, filed Monday, closes a nearly 2-year-old civil rights challenge to the way the district has run school board elections. Sippel ruled in August that the old method of selecting candidates in at-large elections violated the federal Voting Rights Act, and halted the April 2017 school board elections until a solution could be found.

Voting booths
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

The Ferguson-Florissant School District wants a federal judge to approve an election system he ruled unconstitutional in August because it diluted the power of black voters.

Despite that ruling, Ferguson-Florissant attorney Cindy Ormsby said there’s still a possibility that the judge will decide the original at-large system is best.

Ferguson resident Shirlissa Pruitt asks about keeping more resources in her part of the school district  at a town hall meeting on Thursday. Sept. 22, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Sept. 29 with the plaintiff’s choice — The American Civil Liberties Union and the Missouri NAACP are asking the judge in their ongoing voting rights case to consider changing Ferguson-Florissant School Board elections to a cumulative voting system.

Cumulative voting allows a voter to cast multiple votes for the same candidate. For instance, if three slots on the school board are open but a voter only likes one candidate, he or she can cast up to three votes for the same candidate.

Ferguson-Florissant parent Redditt Hudson, attorney Dale Ho, and past school candidate Willis Johnson at a press conference announcing a lawsuit against the Ferguson-Florissant schools on December 18.
Diane Balogh | ACLU of Missouri

Updated Aug. 22 with Sippel's ruling. — A federal judge has ruled that at-large elections for seats on the board for the Ferguson-Florissant School District violate the rights of African-American voters in the district.

Ferguson-Florissant parent Redditt Hudson, attorney Dale Ho, and past school candidate Willis Johnson at a press conference announcing a lawsuit against the Ferguson-Florissant schools on December 18.
Diane Balogh | ACLU of Missouri

Does the method of electing the Ferguson-Florissant school board discriminate against African-Americans? Or would proposed changes give them less power than they have now, not more?

After listening to arguments on both sides, it will be up to a federal judge to decide whether board members should be elected from districts, not at large as they are now.

Joseph Davis superintendent candidate 1.29.15
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Updated at 9:12 a.m. Jan. 8 with comment from school board: A report by the state auditor in North Carolina says that Joseph Davis, who now is superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District, misspent money when he was in charge of the Washington County schools in that state.

Images from the "Hearts for Ferguson" project
Great Circle

After Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson last summer, and unrest delayed the opening of classes in the Ferguson-Florissant schools, the district wanted to make sure students had help handling their emotions, so their learning wasn't affected.

(via Flickr/lowjumpingfrog)

Voters in the Webster Groves School District said a resounding no Tuesday to two proposals — a bond issue and a tax increase — that will mean layoffs of teachers and cancellation of plans to expand and improve district facilities.

While those proposals were soundly defeated, voters in Rockwood and Ferguson-Florissant put past controversies behind them and gave solid majorities to bond issues designed to improve facilities in both of those districts.

voting booth for paper ballot
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

Two St. Louis County school districts are asking voters to put recent controversies behind them and approve bond issues next month to help bring facilities up to date.

In Rockwood, where two bond issues have failed in recent years, $68.95 million in bonds would pay for improved technology and increased security along with better athletic facilities. In Ferguson-Florissant, a $31 million bond issue would fund capital improvements and repairs, safety and security measures and updated technology.

Joseph Davis, the newly selected superintendent of Ferguson-Florissant, gives students a round of applause, saying that they are the reason he's here.
File photo |Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 8:00 p.m. to include details from Wednesday afternoon’s news conference.

Ferguson-Florissant school board president Rob Chabot officially introduced the district’s new superintendent Wednesday afternoon in front of a backdrop of Ferguson-Florissant students.

File photo

As one north St. Louis County school district begins its search for a new superintendent – its fourth leader in a little more than two years – its neighbor is about to decide who will replace a superintendent whose departure created a storm of controversy.

The St. Louis Classical Guitar Society wants to help the Ferguson healing process, one guitar at a time.

Through grants, the Ferguson Guitar Initiative is donating guitars and lessons to fifth- and sixth-grade students in the Normandy and Ferguson-Florissant school districts starting next week.

Ferguson-Florissant parent Redditt Hudson, attorney Dale Ho, and past school candidate Willis Johnson at a press conference announcing a lawsuit against the Ferguson-Florissant schools on December 18.
Diane Balogh | ACLU of Missouri

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, along with its national voting rights division, has sued the Ferguson-Florissant School District over the way members of the school board are elected. 

"Every community has the right to representation in their government," said Dale Ho, the director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project. "Unfortunately for too long, African-Americans in the Ferguson-Florissant school district have been denied that opportunity." 

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Carlotta Walls Lanier asked students at McCluer South-Berkeley High School in Ferguson to imagine a helicopter circling above and 1,200 troops from the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division on their campus.

This is what life was like when she was the youngest of nine African-American students to integrate Little Rock Central High School in 1957 amid mobs of white segregationists. 

Art McCoy
File copy | Ferguson-Florissant website

Art McCoy may have a new job with an international focus, but the former superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant school district says he will still pay attention to the need for better learning in north St. Louis County.

Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio

After a hearing in St. Louis County Circuit Court Wednesday, Judge Michael Burton cleared the way for 13 more students to transfer out of the Normandy school district.

Burton had ruled last week that the Missouri state school board had acted improperly when it made changes that exempted students who live in Normandy from the benefits of Missouri’s school transfer law. As a result, he said, Normandy’s status should remain as unaccredited, and students should have the right to transfer to nearby accredited schools.

(via Flickr/lowjumpingfrog)

Updated at 8:30 a.m., Wed., April 9.

School board elections brought little change to Normandy and Ferguson-Florissant. In Normandy, three incumbents were facing four challengers for spots on the seven-person board. The winners were current board members Jeanette Pulliam with 19.07 percent and William Humphrey with 16 percent of the vote. A challenger, Gwendolyn Buggs, earned a seat on the board with a little more than 15 percent of the vote.

St. Louis Public Radio

School board elections often prompt little more than a ripple of public interest, but they are stirring up quite a bit more in at least two north St. Louis County districts this spring.

In Normandy, three incumbents are facing four challengers for seats on a board that may not even exist after the end of this school year. In Ferguson-Florissant, two incumbents are facing a slate that was moved to join the field after Superintendent Art McCoy was placed on administrative leave, plus other candidates who entered the race as well. McCoy has since resigned his post.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

On Tuesday, April 8, voters will take to the polls to elect board members for their local school districts. April elections, with their focus on local issues such as schools and municipalities, traditionally have a low turnout. However, the results of these elections have a big impact on people’s day-to-day lives, including the policies implemented in their children’s schools.

Art McCoy
Ferguson-Florissant website / Art McCoy

Updated with interview with McCoy and report on rally: Art McCoy, who was placed on paid leave from his post as superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District in November, has resigned from his job, effective this Saturday.

The move was announced Wednesday afternoon in a joint news release from McCoy and the district Wednesday.

Art McCoy
Ferguson-Florissant website / Art McCoy

Art McCoy, who is currently on paid administrative leave from his job as superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District, is in the running for the position 0f president of Harris-Stowe State University, St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon has learned.

Asked about his candidacy for the job, McCoy said in an interview he did not want to discuss it while his status in Ferguson-Florissant remains unclear. But he did acknowledge that he had been asked by several people to consider the Harris-Stowe job, and he agreed to join the search pool.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Access to quality education as a basic civil right was a major theme during the NAACP’s Rosa Parks Observance Day ceremony Sunday at the Old Courthouse downtown.

“Education is definitely a top priority for us,” said John Gaskin, who was recently sworn in as a member of the NAACP’s National Board of Directors.  

A speech from suspended Ferguson Florissant School District Superintendent Art McCoy closed the event, and Gaskin said the choice sends a message that the civil rights organization is committed to putting classroom success above politics.

Ferguson-Florissant website

Updated 3:30 p.m., Fri., Jan. 24 with news from press conference called by Grade A 4 Change.

Two of three incumbents on the Ferguson-Florissant school board who voted to put Superintendent Art McCoy on paid leave are running for re-election in April, but they will be facing challengers hand-picked because of their support for McCoy.

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