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Haas says SLPS board not ready to take back power, even as he runs for re-election

Bill Haas speaks during a St. Louis Board of Education candidate forum Oct. 24, 2018. Haas said several fellow board members are "sheep" doing the teachers' union bidding and they shouldn't be given control of the district back.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio
Bill Haas speaks during a St. Louis Board of Education candidate forum last week. Haas said several fellow board members are "sheep" doing the teachers' union bidding and they shouldn't be given back control of the district.

St. Louis school board member Bill Haas doesn't think the board is ready to retake control of the district from the state.

Haas, who is seeking re-election to the board, said several members are "sheep," doing the teachers' union bidding.

The three-person Special Administrative Board that’s run St. Louis Public Schools since a 2007 state takeover voted in January to end its oversight and return the district to local control. Haas said he’s a proponent of that “but not until the union gets its fat butts out of internal board politics.”

“The union doesn’t give a rat’s tooshie about children,” Haas said.

The teachers’ union has a vested interest in district governance, according to its president, but the assertion it’s meddling in internal politics of the board “is nuts.”

“For him to think that teachers and the people who work for St. Louis Public Schools aren’t concerned about who is making the ultimate decisions is crazy,” Sally Topping, president of AFT 420 — the union representing teachers in St. Louis, told St. Louis Public Radio.

She said she had no knowledge of any lobbying of board members to pick leadership.

Haas is on Tuesday’s ballot among seven candidates seeking two open spots on the school board. The top-two vote earners will win seats. There will be two more open seats in the April municipal election.

“I think he’s a nice guy, I think he’s a smart guy,” Topping said about her interactions with Haas, adding, “it makes you wonder why he would run. He’s running for a job he doesn’t think anybody should have. That’s strange.”

Haas made the claims to St. Louis Public Radio following a story previewing the upcoming board election, one of the last before the Missouri State Board of Education is expected to formally end state control of SLPS next summer.

The board is made up of “mostly well-meaning neophyte rookies” who need his leadership during the transition, he said at an Oct. 24 candidate forum. The following day he tweeted about “5 sheep rolling over” to the union.

Board members are taking part in a months-long training from the National School Boards Association ahead of the transition.

The board discussed electing Charli Cooksey as president in June but ultimately decided on Dorothy Rohde Collins instead. Haas claims a union representative called members of the board and told them to switch votes.

Rohde Collins said that is not accurate and the idea of the union choosing the president is “probably a significant overreach.”

Haas also claims “the fix is in” to fire Superintendent Kelvin Adams as soon as the board regains power. Adams’ contract is set to expire next year but the board passed a resolution last month supporting its extension.

“That is not an accurate representation of the board,” Rohde Collins said.

Haas said he will make his stance official at the Nov. 13 board meeting, win or lose.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney

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