May 21, 2019

By Mallory Herrmann,

The Lee’s Summit R-7 board of education is getting national media attention after their monthly meeting last week and has scheduled an impromptu work session in response.

At their May 16 session, the board once again voted on an equity and diversity consultant – and once again voted it down.

During the discussion, Board President Julie Doane took issue with the very notion of white privilege.

Suggesting that it was unfair if a male colleague lost a job based solely on the fact another candidate is female.

“If they’re looking for a Spanish, they might choose J.Lo over me, I don’t know,” she continued.

When asked to consider the things she doesn’t have to think about every day, like being white, Doane went on to suggest that as a blonde-haired woman, she faces the same anxiety that black drivers face when seeing the flashing lights of a cop car in the rear-view mirror.

Superintendent Dennis Carpenter expressed frustration that every effort to focus on equity that he’s put forward has been met with opposition. He said that the board needed a superintendent they can trust and that if they don’t trust him, they should satisfy his contract and find someone they do trust.

“If you don’t believe that of all the inequities in the district the greatest one is not racial, then I don’t know what rock you’re living under,” Carpenter said. “We got work to do.”

The day after the meeting, a standard eNews Update email was sent from the board with information about the meeting. Regarding the presentation and discussion, it said only, “The Board of Education did not approve the Educational Equity Consultants proposal.”

As media attention grew around the comments, Doane sent a second message indicating that the board would continue discussing options, among other administrative updates.

She also wrote, “With this, I would like to apologize for my comments at the Board of Education meeting last week. I’m sorry for the insensitive manner in which they were made. I look forward to learning more about how we can all work together moving forward in this conversation.”

This isn’t the first time Doane has made comments that have been called tone-deaf to the ongoing community conversation about achievement gaps, race issues and equity.

In a meeting last August during which the board discussed efforts in hiring diversity, Doane suggested that the district wasn’t focused only on hiring black staff.

“Are we, um, reaching out for … Asian and … um, people from India, I mean, just,” Doane gestured with air quotes, “all walks of life?”

The district’s data at that time showed that 75% of the student population is white and 13% is black; 94 of staff is white, while only 4% of staff is black.

The board will meet at 4:30 p.m. on May 22 for a public work session, to be followed by a closed session.



  • Joyce Jegen

    May 21, 2019 - 10:06 pm

    I’m guessing it’s been met with opposition because the focus on equitable EDUCATION was lost amidst an agenda to make these discussions about racial equality, with Dr. Carpenter leading the charge.

    • admin

      May 21, 2019 - 10:12 pm

      The BOE directed Dr. Carpenter to: 1) Boundary Change, 2) Equity. This is not new, as the previous Sup left it on the shelf for two or three years.
      That’s what many people have forgotten.

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