Mediation is commencing

The long-awaited come-to-Jesus sessions between the Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education and Dr. Dennis Carpenter are likely starting Monday, July 22.

The district has scheduled a closed meeting for 4 p.m. that day at the Missouri Innovation Campus and has posted a public notice to the community the session will be closed under “personnel” and “legal” matters.


Earlier in the week, I asked Board President Julie Doane if a mediation session was on the books. Her response: “There should be a date posted soon for mediation. As always personnel matters are held in closed session.”

So my not-to-massive leap is that Monday’s session is the first of what could be a number of lengthy and/or costly mediation sessions between our superintendent and the board he reports to.

Water-cooler discussion was that the chosen mediator was none other than Kansas City Mayor Sly James, owner of the Sly James Law Firm and a skilled negotiator in his own right.

James’ Chief of Staff Joni Wickham said via e-mail James will in fact not be mediating the case and did not submit a proposal to do so.

Regardless of who is sitting between our superintendent and the board of education members, this is likely the most vital seat in the district right now. The wounds of 2018 and early 2019 haven’t healed and not many seem too anxious to head to the doctor. We started discussing mediation at the beginning of June. And yes, it’s summer. But this work should have been at the extreme pinnacle of their list of priorities right now.

Mediation of this magnitude benefits more than these eight district leaders as well. This mediation should be done on behalf of 18,000 students. On behalf of every senior that just graduated. For the parents, the PTAs and the volunteers.

We should be sick and tired of this mess and the messy way we have conducted ourselves during board meetings and behind closed doors.

If a sharp legal mind can help administer some sanity and civility into this situation, good. But more than that, this person should hold the elected officials, as well as those holding the highest offices, accountable to the tenets of their office and to the mission of the school district.

It bears repeating: our children are watching. Are we proud of what we are showing them?

Get mediation done in private and show us in public what we paid for and how we will move on in a positive direction from this somewhat disappointing chapter in our district.


Editor's Note: John Beaudoin is a Lee's Summit resident and award winning writer and former newspaper publisher in the Lee's Summit community. Views and opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily reflect those of Link 2 Lee's Summit, it's employees or any other guest contributors.