Missouri State Board of Education

Mike Jones talks with education commissioner Chris Nicastro.
File photo: Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

When Chris Nicastro was chosen as Missouri’s education commissioner in 2009, her experience with school districts in north St. Louis County was cited as a big factor.

Now, as the Missouri state board of education prepares to interview five finalists to succeed Nicastro, they have a list of four white men who have been superintendents in Joplin, Branson, Springfield and Wentzville, plus a white woman who has been actively involved in north county as deputy commissioner but has never served as a superintendent.

St. Louis Public Schools

(Updated with interviews from all candidates.)

The Missouri state board of education has narrowed to five the field of candidates seeking to become the state’s next commissioner of elementary and secondary education.

After reviewing 12 applications in closed session Friday, the board announced Monday that it would interview:

Peter Herschend
DESE website

The Missouri state board of education has a field of 14 candidates from which to choose the state’s new commissioner of elementary and secondary education.

After the board’s open meeting in Branson Thursday, where it approved added responsibility for the appointed school board that is running the Normandy Schools Collaborative, board president Peter Herschend said in a telephone interview that the applications of the 14 people who want to succeed retiring Commissioner Chris Nicastro would be reviewed in a closed session on Friday.

File photo

After complaints from teachers and others about how the initial year of the Normandy Schools Collaborative has gone so far, the state board of education wants to give more authority to the local appointed board.

Dale

JEFFERSON CITY -- Compared with the clamor and criticism that has accompanied the debate over Common Core State Standards in recent months and years, Monday’s hearing into the topic by the state board of education was positively tame.

Stephanie Zimmerman

As legal efforts continue to open the Francis Howell school district to students who want to transfer from Normandy, a new policy shift has increased the pool of students able to transfer to any local accredited district.

The move raises new concerns about the financial survival of Normandy, which was taken over by the state after transfer costs drove it to the brink of bankruptcy last school year.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
(via Google Maps screen capture)

Missouri education officials now say they will pay whatever tuition a receiving district charges for transfer students from Normandy, rather than a lower amount imposed earlier, raising new concerns about the state-run district's ability to survive financially.

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.

File photo

A lawyer who won the right for five students who live in Normandy to transfer again to an accredited school went to court Tuesday to force the Francis Howell school district to accept all Normandy transfers who want to return.

It also asks that two students who attended Ferguson-Florissant last year be allowed to return.

Stephanie Zimmerman

The end of summer is coming for most area students, if it hasn’t already arrived, but the uncertainty over transfers out of Normandy remains.

The attorney for parents suing to allow their students to transfer out of Normandy accused state education officials Wednesday of using “linguistical magic” to change the rules by saying that the new Normandy district is accredited and Missouri’s transfer statute does not apply.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Jay Nixon is taking heat from his own party, especially from women, for appointing Maynard Wallace to the state Board of Education. 

And while Nixon, a Democrat, isn’t backing down, the outcry from several Democratic legislators may not bode well for the appointment to be confirmed.

Wallace is a former teacher, superintendent and Republican state legislator from Thornfield. For a time, Wallace was also a registered lobbyist for the Missouri Association of School Administrators.

Peter Herschend
DESE website

(Updated at 3:46 p.m. with revised transfer policy)

JEFFERSON CITY – With its president acknowledging that an earlier vote was an overreaction, the Missouri state board of education reversed itself Tuesday and broadened the terms under which students living in Normandy may transfer to nearby accredited districts in the upcoming school year.

Stephanie Zimmerman

Several parents of students who live in the Normandy school district filed suit in St. Louis County Circuit Court Monday, challenging the state’s move to limit the number of students who may transfer out of Normandy to accredited school districts.

JEFFERSON CITY -- Missouri has already adopted and begun to implement the Common Core State Standards,  but a group of diehard opponents urged the state board of education Tuesday to follow what they said is the lead of other states and reconsider.

DESE website

Missouri’s commissioner of education has been buffeted by two controversies that have led to calls for her resignation but also expressions of support from her bosses on the state board of education.

To explain the controversy swirling around Chris Nicastro, Missouri’s embattled commissioner of elementary and secondary education, state school board member Mike Jones invokes the words of a legendary Texan, Jim Hightower:

The only things you find in the middle of the road are yellow lines and dead armadillos.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Public schools in Kansas City, Missouri, will remain unaccredited.

The State Board of Education on Tuesday chose to take no action on a request by Kansas City Schools Superintendent R. Stephen Green to grant provisional accreditation, based on this year's assessment scores in which the district placed within the provisional range.  But State Board President Peter Herschend says there hasn't been sufficient improvement sustained over a period of time.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

It was a busy day for the Missouri State Board of Education.

First, the Board heard from Kansas City Public Schools, which is seeking to regain provisional accreditation, citing "rapid improvement."

(via dese.mo.gov press release)

The man who recently took over as President of the Missouri State Board of Education resigned today from the board.

Rev. Stan Archie submitted his resignation to Governor Jay Nixon (D) two days after Archie was hit by a civil lawsuit accusing him of sexual misconduct.  It’s the second such lawsuit filed against the long-time Kansas City pastor and State Education board member.  It accuses him of having sexually inappropriate conversations with a female minor whom he was counseling, giving her money and gifts, and later harassing her after she ended their relationship.

St. Louis Public Schools

Legislation has been filed in the Missouri Senate that would lay the groundwork for restoring an elected school board for the city of St. Louis.

The city's school district regained provisional accreditation last September, and if it can maintain it for a full year, the bill would then require that a locally elected school board replace the state-appointed board on July 1st, 2014.  It’s sponsored by State Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D, St. Louis).

knittymarie / Flickr

St. Louis public schools will find out tomorrow if they’ll regain at least provisional accreditation from the State Board of Education.

St. Louis schools lost their accreditation five years ago and were soon after placed under state control, but they have improved over the past two years.  In 2010 they only met 3 out of 14 performance standards, with six being the minimum require for provisional accreditation.  Last year they met the minimum six, and this year they’ve met seven performance standards.  State Board Member Peter Herschend (R) says, though, there’s no guarantee the vote will go St. Louis’s way.

Pages