Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The results are in, and for the first time in years, Kansas City Public received an accountability score from the state that qualifies it for full accreditation.

But it won’t be enough to convince the State Board the urban school district is back on track.

“We have been very clear that you need to show at least two years,” says Margie Vandeven, Missouri Commissioner of Education.

Still, KCPS Superintendent Mark Bedell sees cause for celebration.

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

The St. Joseph School District, smarting from the federal wire fraud conviction of a former superintendent, has asked the federal court to hike the fine to cover the district's financial loss.

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

The man who spent 14 years in the top job in the St. Joseph School District pleaded guilty Monday morning in federal court to one count of wire fraud. Under a deal with the U.S. Attorney, Dan Colgan will spend a year and a day in federal prison.

Colgan will also have to repay $660,000 in a lump sum to the Missouri Public School Retirement System (PSRS). Colgan improperly padded the last three years of his salary using stipends, car allowances and other means. The school board knew about some of the payments but often they did not.

After two years of investigation, a former St. Joseph School District superintendent and school board president will be charged with a federal crime.

Dan Colgan who, associates say grew up as a brawler on St. Joseph's north side, has two court dates Monday morning in federal court in Kansas City.

According to the district court, Colgan will appear before a magistrate and then before a district court judge. While we don't know exactly what he'll be charged with, these hearings indicate a plea deal is in the works.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Two more former high-ranking members of the St. Joseph School District have repaid tens of thousands of dollars to the Missouri state retirement system after it was discovered they inflated their incomes.

The Public School Retirement System (PSRS) has confirmed that Mark Hargens has repaid $90,000 and former superintendent Melody Smith has repaid $23,000.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

For Michelle Rice’s son, the problems started when he was in fourth grade at a Kansas City charter school.

“He was under the supervision of a teacher who was Caucasian,” Rice says, “and regularly, he was either in the principal’s office or sent to the computer lab.”

The more time Marquelle spent out of class, the further behind he fell, and his behavior problems escalated. Soon, he was receiving out-of-school suspensions for what Rice describes as minor infractions.

St. Joseph School District

Update: April 26 at 10:15 am

The Missouri Public Schools Retirement System said in a letter to the St. Joseph District that Dan Colgan's retirement date was moved from July 1, 2005 to January 1, 2006. That means he improperly received pensions benefits for six months.

In what is the largest settlement in the history of the teacher’s pension system in Missouri, the former superintendent and school board president in the St. Joseph School District will pay back $660,000 in retirement benefits he did not earn.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Summer is a time that all educators dread to some degree. No matter how well students do during the school year there is generally some slippage during the summer break.

That's especially true in urban districts like the Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS).

The district has expanded its summer school offerings over the past few years and says it expects more students to enroll this summer.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

The deal with the new Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) superintendent has been signed and Mark Bedell will take the top job on July 1.

Remember the water cycle? 

It's typically first learned in elementary school, around third grade. You know, precipitation, evaporation, condensation? Many readers may remember filling out a graphic organizer to help them memorize the steps. Others may recall having to answer a question about the water cycle on a standardized test. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

After three hours of public comment and debate, after numerous parents and teachers fought it, a divided Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) Board of Education voted to make sweeping changes for next school year.

The KCPS plan was two-and-a-half years in the making and failed to get board approval when initially offered in November.

The master plan will move many school boundaries effecting up to 15 percent of the district's students.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Kansas City Public Schools officials announced the district's new superintendent Wednesday.

Mark Bedell has been an assistant superintendent in the Baltimore County District for the past four years. He began his career in Houston.

He beat out Ron Taylor, the superintendent in the Willingboro, New Jersey, district.

Courtesy photo / Kansas City Public Schools

Kansas City Public Schools is one step closer  to picking a new superintendent.

KCPS board chairman Jon Hile says the board met behind closed doors for 90 minutes Monday and reviewed feedback from last week’s forum where the two finalists each answered questions for an hour.

Hile says to expect an announcement no later than Wednesday.

"I expect to have something more in the next 24 to 48 hours," he says.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Kansas City Public Schools didn't know what kind of crowd would come out to meet the two finalists for the top job in the district. Just how much interest would there be?

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Parents will soon meet the two finalists for the top job in the Kansas City Public Schools.

The district late Friday announced two forums scheduled for Jan. 14 at Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts. Each candidate will be available for an hour to the public and the media.

The names of the finalists have not been released, but both are from out of town. The district's  interim superintendent, Al Tunis, is not in the running. The district says the names will be released 48 hours before the public forums.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

The Kansas City Public School District has narrowed its list of superintendent candidates and we may find out more about the search at Wednesday's meeting.

Board Chairman Jon Hile would not say exactly how many finalists are in the running but many believe there are only two – and current interim Superintendent Al Tunis is not among them. Both candidates are believed to be from out of town.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

The Missouri State Board of Education acted Tuesday on two major pieces of education business in the Kansas City.

First, the Board decided to keep the Kansas City district and the Hickman Mills School District provisionally accredited. Both districts had lobbied the state hard to move up to full accreditation, but both fell below expectations on the last round the state standardized tests. Because the test and the way it was given changed from the previous year, the state had already decided to "hold harmless" districts that did not meet standards.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Over the last year, the embattled St. Joseph School District has had very little good news when it comes to audits and investigations. But Monday it received a report from the IRS that wasn't too bad at all.

The district says after an audit that started in June it will be fined just $27,249. The fine, according to IRS documents, is for failure to pay Medicare taxes for several employees in 2013 and 2014 and for improper documentation for about 30 staff take-home cars in the same years.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) is getting ready to release its master plan, and it will almost certainly call for closing some schools and possibly cutting jobs.

In a news release, the district says the goal of the master plan is to ensure that limited resources are being used as effectively as possible.

What that means is that there is a very good chance the some buildings will be closed, boundaries will be moved and that some jobs will be lost. Attrition is more likely than layoffs.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Updated 9:05 a.m. Monday:

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) representatives say school districts were given ample time to prepare for online science testing that caused big drops in annual performance points for the Hickman Mills School District.

Sarah Potter with DESE's communications department says the district had years to get students ready for the switch.

"Districts were notified in 2010 that all state assessments would go online by 2015," Potter said. "That gave districts time to direct budgets toward technology and also prepare students with 21st century computing skills. At the end of the day, it's up to districts to help students prepare for any state test."

Crossroads Academy

One of the more successful charter schools in Kansas City says it plans to open a second campus in time for the next school year.

Crossroads Academy is on Central Street just around the corner from the main branch of the Kansas City Public Library.

It opened in 2012, has doubled in size since that time and now educates about 350 students.

Executive Director Dean Johnson says the school will look for a building to buy downtown that will eventually serve about 400 students in  kindergarten through eighth grades.

Missouri Auditor's Office

The social security numbers and other personal information of almost 1.5 million current and former Missouri public school students are in jeopardy, according to a state audit released Wednesday.

Liz / Wikimedia Commons

State education officials in Missouri hope a newly designed statistical model will identify down to to the district level what content areas and geographic regions in the state are facing drastic teacher shortages. 

"The better your data, the better you can address issues and solve problems. The better you can make things happen. The more we know what our specific problems are, the more we can attack them," Katnik says. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

School districts across Missouri found out Monday how they did on last year's standardized tests.

For Kansas City Public Schools and the Hickman Mills districts, both provisionally accredited by the state, the news was mixed.

Missouri changed its test so it's impossible to accurately compare scores year-to-year. However, both districts scored below 50 percent proficient or advanced in all four subjects tested —English, math, science and social studies.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

The release of standardized test scores in Missouri this year are coming out slowly, so the Kansas City Public Schools and the Hickman Mills School District won't know for at least a few weeks whether they will gain full accreditation from the state.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released statewide test results Tuesday, but the district-by-district numbers won't be available for another week.

Kansas City and Hickman Mills are provisionally accredited and were hoping to have the state fully accredit them this year.

Brad Wilson / Flickr-CC

When Missouri releases its standardized test scores, it’s always a tense week for some school districts.

But this year two area districts are both tense and confused.

The confusion for Kansas City Public Schools and the Hickman Mills School District comes because the state changed its standardized tests.

Both districts are provisionally accredited and hoping for full accreditation following this year’s results which will be publicly released Tuesday.

However, the state says because of the change, a year-to-year comparison would be almost useless.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Officials in the St. Joseph School District have been nervously waiting for months for a report from the Missouri State Auditor.

KCUR has learned that the report is back and the board will discuss it Tuesday in executive session.

The Missouri State Auditor moved a five-member team into district headquarters last Spring after it was revealed that the new St. Joseph school superintendent, Dr. Fred Cerwonka, handed out $5,000 stipends to 54 administrators without seeking board approval.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education wants to know what qualities the public values in its next education leader.

Current education commissioner Chris Nicastro plans to retire at the end of the year, leaving the State Board about two months to hire her replacement. The department released its criteria for selecting a new leader on Tuesday.

Dan Verbeck / KCUR

More than a dozen people, picked from among scores who wanted to speak,  reacted with passion to proposed changes in Kansas City Public Schools Wednesday night.

Nearly all who spoke to a two- thirds filled Paseo Academy Auditorium wanted to keep local control of schools.

Public testimony taken by Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was first in a series around the state.

Two members of the Missouri General Assembly are calling on elementary and secondary education Commissioner Chris Nicastro to resign. They think Nicastro has lost the public’s trust.

In a written statement, House member Genise Montecillo and Sen. Paul LeVota, both Democrats, say Nicastro has, “demonstrated a troubling tendency to abuse power.”

Montecillo specifically accuses Nicastro of releasing inaccurate information regarding a proposed constitutional amendment to do away with teacher tenure.

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