Federal judge warns KC school board to toe the line

U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple warned Kansas City school board members that they might face contempt of court charges if they hold illegal meetings or engage in patronage. He told board members at a hearing that they cannot use their positions for personal gain. The judge initially called the hearing after the board had fired Benjamin Demps Jr. as superintendent. Whipple reinstated Demps and wanted board members to explain their actions. But Demps subsequently quit and Whipple said having board members testify about the reasons for Demps' firing would just fuel a media frenzy and detract from the district's progress.

Related stories: A year ago, Bernard Taylor was finishing his third year as principal of a Pittsburgh elementary school and thinking maybe it was time for a new challenge. Now Taylor has unexpectedly inherited one of the greater challenges in American public education: the Kansas City, Mo., School District. Named as interim superintendent in the wake of the messy ouster of Benjamin Demps Jr., Taylor is new to Kansas City and unknown to most Kansas Citians. Until last week, he was the district's executive director for leadership, a midlevel school post he accepted last August....Benjamin Demps Jr. has resigned as superintendent of the embattled Kansas City public schools--just four days after a federal judge blocked the school board's attempt to fire him. Members of the Missouri House and Senate say they will seek a state takeover of the school district.

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