Elle Moxley

Missouri Schools Reporter

Elle joined KCUR in 2014 as a general assignment reporter. She covered the 2016 election in Kansas as part of a political reporting partnership with NPR. Today, she covers Missouri schools and politics.

Before coming to KCUR, Elle covered Indiana education policy for NPR’s StateImpact project. Her work covering Indiana’s exit from the Common Core was nationally recognized with an Edward R. Murrow award.

Elle has also reported for The Examiner in Independence, Missouri, and KBIA-FM in Columbia, Missouri. She is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Ways to Connect

Jackson County Emergency Preparedness

It’s time for your annual reminder of what to do when – not if – the New Madrid fault goes.

Drop to the floor. Cover your head. Hold on until the shaking stops.  

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Calling 911 hold times “unacceptable” and citing a need for more patrol officers, Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith asked for an additional $9.3 million in funding in the budget he submitted to the city manager last week.

In a blog post explaining why appropriations should increase 3.6 percent for the fiscal year that begins May 1, 2018, Smith noted that the average hold time for a 911 caller was 30 seconds in September.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri schools continue to dole out harsher punishments to black students – and in particular, black students with disabilities – for disciplinary infractions than their white peers receive, according to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union on what’s been dubbed the school-to-prison pipeline.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Usually education officials talk about the achievement gap – the stubborn, persistent disparities that keep students of color from catching up to their white peers.

But in socioeconomically disadvantaged districts like Kansas City Public Schools, there’s also a mentoring gap. An estimated one in three young people reach the age of 19 without having a mentor to serve as a positive adult role model.

Courtesy of UMKC

University of Missouri-Kansas City law students are helping young people who were brought to the country illegally as children renew their work-study authorization ahead of an Oct. 5 deadline.

Courtesy of University Academy

University Academy has been named a National Blue Ribbon School, the first public charter in the Missouri to earn the distinction.

The awards recognize sustained excellence for a five-year period. This award is for 2013-17.

Less than one-third of 1 percent of schools who are eligible for the award receive it each year, according to Supt. Tony Kline. He credits Principal Clem Ukaoma for building a culture of success at the upper school.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Although Steve Foutch likes to joke he started demolition 10 minutes after he got the keys to Kemper Arena from the city, his company held a formal groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday. 

Facebook

Updated, 3:06 p.m. Monday: St. Teresa’s Academy alumnae, who were outraged after a group of students shared photos of them playing “Jews vs. Nazis” beer pong, say the girls’ apology is insufficient.

The apology came late Sunday evening after classmates allegedly shouted “Nazi” and “racist” at the girls during the Teresian homecoming dance.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The students from St. Teresa’s Academy who posted photos of themselves drinking from cups arranged in the shape of a swastika are bullying the teenage girl who reported them.

That’s according to frustrated classmates who reached out to KCUR to say St. Teresa’s response to alleged anti-Semitism has been wholly inadequate.

Wikimedia -- CC

Alumnae of St. Teresa’s Academy are upset by the school’s lax response to social media posts that show current students posing with a swastika.

According to multiple alumnae who reached out to KCUR, seven students arranged plastic cups in the shape of a swastika while playing beer pong at a weekend party. They then shared photos of themselves with the swastika on Snapchat with the caption, “Girls night!”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

At Kansas City Academy on Friday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made veggie burgers in culinary class and a clay pot in ceramics, but she didn’t explain how a private liberal arts school known for its progressive values landed on her radar.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is in the Midwest this week on a hastily-planned “Rethink Schools” tour that’s left Kansas and Missouri school leaders scrambling.

To say the call Kansas City Academy received the Friday before Labor Day was unexpected would be an understatement.

Someone from DeVos’ staff wanted to know if the education secretary could visit the tiny private school in Kansas City, Missouri, in two weeks’ time. Head of School Kory Gallagher says he was given until 5 p.m. to decide.

It was already 3:55.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

University of Missouri-Kansas City leaders on Monday acknowledged the mixed results of a survey about the atmosphere on campus. 

The majority of UMKC students, faculty and staff rated their campus “comfortable” or “very comfortable” in the most recent climate study.

But 17 percent of those who took the survey last October said they personally had experienced “exclusionary, intimidating, offensive and/or hostile conduct” because of their ethnicity, age, gender or gender identity.

And 34 percent of respondents said they had seriously considered leaving UMKC.

City of Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department

Young black students were five times more likely than their white peers to be removed from Kansas City classrooms for disciplinary infractions during the 2015-16 school year.

UMKC Marketing & Communications / Flickr -- CC

More cuts may be coming at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

An email Interim Chancellor Barbara Bichelmeyer sent to staff Wednesday suggested that the budget situation was even worse than anticipated. UMKC is already operating with a budgeted deficit of $4.5 million for the fiscal year that began July 1.

“We also are now aware of additional risks that were not contemplated in initial budgeting,” Bichelmeyer wrote. “Most importantly, we still will need to make selected strategic investments that will require reallocations from within our existing budgets.”

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Updated, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday: The ethics complaint against Councilwoman Jolie Justus has been dismissed.

A citizen filed the complaint on Sunday, alleging Justus had a conflict of interest serving on the airport selection committee because the law firm she works for, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, represented proposer Burns & McDonnell in litigation involving the Branson airport in 2013.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Talking to fourth graders about saving money for college is very different than talking to their parents, Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt found out Tuesday.

“How do you get money?” asked a student at Crestview Elementary, the first stop on a statewide tour to promote 529 college savings accounts.

When Schmitt replied you get money by working, the girl’s classmate raised his hand to ask, “How much do you get?”

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Two councilmembers who represent constituents along Indian Creek say Kansas City needs a regional approach to flood control.

Scott Taylor and Kevin McManus, both of whom live in south Kansas City, Missouri, held a news conference Tuesday urging city leaders to work with other municipalities to keep Indian Creek from flooding again, as it has twice this summer. They plan to introduce a resolution at Thursday’s city council meeting.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Twenty years ago, there weren’t any Kansas wines sommelier Doug Frost would recommend.

He told the late Walt Bodine as much during an interview on KCUR – so Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery owner Michelle Meyer sent him a bottle made from Kansas grapes to try.

“Winemakers here in Kansas and Missouri have to be more clever than winemakers on the left coast,” says Frost as he sips a Valvin Muscat on the porch of Meyer’s winery in Basehor. “This wine is as friendly as can be. It’s like taking spring flowers, throwing them in the air, and they land in your glass.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

This summer, Kansas City Public Schools made a significant investment in one of two district-operated Montessori schools in an attempt to address long-standing inequities between the programs.

“Right here in KCPS we have a jewel, but Border Star is the Montessori program everyone knows about,” KaLinda Bass-Barlow, principal at Holliday Montessori, says.

Holliday was built specifically for Montessori education, opening as a magnet school in 1992, back when district officials thought state-of-the-art facilities might convince white families to stay.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

In a video that plays on loop in the background of his memorial service, the young officer grins as he performs the step routine, slapping his thighs in unison with the community members he’s dancing with.

His triumphant smile is the last frame – he knows he just nailed it.

“One thing’s for sure: Thomas Orr was the best stepper on the force,” Lee’s Summit Police Chief Travis Forbes said at the officer’s funeral Thursday.

Courtesy of Lee's Summit Police Department

Lee's Summit School Resource Officer Thomas Orr Jr. was shot and killed Sunday night at Californos in Westport.

Police say Orr was an innocent bystander to an argument that broke out between two men on the restaurant's back patio.

The 30-year-old officer had been with the Lee's Summit Police Department for two years. He had just started a new job at Campbell Middle School last week, a district spokeswoman confirmed.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Former Hickman Mills Supt. Dennis Carpenter has started his new job in Lee’s Summit.

Carpenter, whose Twitter handle is @EquitySupt1, has advocated for an accountability system that was fair for poor, high mobility districts.

He says that work isn’t over now that he’s in Lee’s Summit, one of state’s most affluent school districts.

“We've started some of that conversation (in) the last couple of months, realizing that there is a place for equity in the suburban districts,” says Carpenter. “That's something that we're going to work with through the board's priorities.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Updated, 4:56 p.m. Tuesday: There won't be a decision this week on a new terminal proposed for Kansas City International Airport.

Instead, the four teams that submitted proposals to build a single terminal KCI are being asked to answer four additional questions by Friday, when the airport selection committee reconvenes.

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

The Missouri State Board of Education on Tuesday advanced what’s been characterized as a “skinny” plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

Better known as ESSA, the Obama-era reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act replaces the controversial No Child Left Behind Act as the law governing school accountability. Among other things, ESSA outlines how federal Title I dollars should be distributed to schools with large populations of students living in poverty.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

At 8:55 a.m., five minutes before school was supposed to start Monday, the line of parents trying to enroll their kids at Banneker Elementary was out the front door.

“We’re 140 students over our enrollment, which is a good problem to have,” Principal Harrison Neal says, walking a preschooler to her classroom. “We were projected at 333 students. We’re currently at 462.”

Then he’s back on his walkie-talkie to ask how many students are still at breakfast.

Pixabay - CC

From a targeted shooting in Olathe to the president's so-called "travel ban," tensions over race, culture and religion are high. Today, we delve into two experiences in the Muslim community and learn what living in Trump's America has been like for Islamic people.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Public Schools will need community-wide support to improve student achievement – that’s the crux of a strategic plan the Board of Education approved Wednesday night.

Unlike the district’s controversial master plan, which divided the school board and angered parents and teachers before it ultimately passed in 2016, the strategic plan doesn’t change boundaries or close buildings.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

As they carry donated food out of Great Western Bank in Shawnee, Kansas, five teenage boys boast about whose load is heaviest.

One flexes. “Them’s cannons right there!”

Another snorts. “I’m stronger than – ”

“Yeah, right,” interrupts Will Anderson, their mentor. On this last day of an intensive two-week summer program, he’s driven junior members of the Urban Ranger Corps across town to pick up donations for the food pantry at Covenant Presbyterian Church. Anderson jiggles the van keys. “Let’s go.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Outgoing University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor Leo Morton will be leaving earlier than expected, UM System President Mun Choi announced Wednesday.

In May, Morton, who has led UMKC since 2008, announced his intention to retire in spring 2018. But on Tuesday, Morton told Choi he would leave in October. Morton has been offered a job as chief operating officer at Kansas City-based DeBruce Companies.

Pages