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

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The School of Computing and Engineering at the University of Missouri-Kansas City is getting a high-tech $32 million facility to help students compete in a global economy.

The University of Missouri Board of Curators approved construction of the computer science building, which will be adjacent to Flarsheim Hall, earlier this month. It will be built with a combination of state funds and private donations, including a $6 million gift from the Sunderland Foundation.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Gingerbread houses crafted by Kansas City Public Schools culinary arts students are on their way to Union Station, where they’ll be on display until Christmas.

“They make some amazing things,” says Rashawn Caruthers, director of Career and Technical Education for KCPS. “One year they made SpongeBob’s house. It’s not just your traditional gingerbread house.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Public Schools scored fewer points than it did last year under Missouri’s statewide accountability system but stayed solidly in the provisionally accredited range, according to data released Wednesday by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Lexi Churchill / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Public Schools will reopen Lincoln Middle to relieve overcrowding at the adjacent high school and offer a rigorous college preparatory program to more students.

“Just like any other competitive superintendent, I don’t want to lose on my first big decision, so I’m extremely happy about the board approving our recommendation to reopen Lincoln Middle School,” Superintendent Mark Bedell, now in his second year with the district, said after the board of directors approved his administration’s plan to reopen Lincoln Middle for the 2019-20 school year.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Fifteen years ago, the vast majority of young couples buying homes in Brookside and Waldo had no intention of staying in the central city once they started families.

“Maybe they were just married and didn’t have any kids, but they planned to eventually,” says Mary Hutchison, real estate agent. “When they had one child, maybe two, they automatically decided to hop over to Kansas to get their kids in the public school system there.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Public Schools Board of Directors appears poised to reopen Lincoln Middle School, relieving overcrowding at the elite Lincoln College Preparatory Academy and reversing an unpopular decision made during rightsizing.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Updated, Wednesday, 1:45 p.m.

The victim of a Wednesday morning drive-by shooting in Brookside was Thomas Pickert, a personal injury lawyer for the law firm Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger.

Police have not yet confirmed the victim's identity.

Kansas City Police Sgt. Kari D. Thompson says the man was on the front porch of his Brookside home when he was killed Wednesday morning. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

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.”

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