In a reversal of a decision made in May, the Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education voted in special session Wednesday evening to enter into a contract with Educational Equity Consultants.
The decision came via a 6-1 vote, with Board member Judy Hedrick voting “no.” Hedrick had been one of four “no” votes when the issue was first presented to the Board in May. While Hedrick did not offer any comments during discussion prior to the vote, she informed reporters after the meeting her vote of dissent was because she believed the consultant’s efforts were not inclusive enough for all student sub-groups.
The district’s equity mission has been a topic of contention both at the Board level and in the community since it was adopted by a 7-0 decision early in 2019. As part of the plan, the district issued a request for proposals from equity consultants to work with the district to refine the plan and begin training for district leadership and staff. An RFP review committee made up of District administrators and staff presented a recommendation for Educational Equity Consultants at the May Board meeting.
The 4-3 decision to deny the recommendation resulted in backlash from some in the Lee’s Summit community, as well as commentary from various media outlets. The Board called a work session in the days following that vote to explain their decisions and attempt to work through the tension, but no decisions or votes were made and tensions between Board members and Superintendent Dr. Dennis Carpenter appeared to escalate. In a closed session the following week, the Board announced it would be seeking mediation with Carpenter in an effort to find a way to work more cohesively.
During two days of a Board retreat (held on June 14 and 17) facilitated by the Missouri School Boards’ Association, the body again talked through the consultant and its proposed training, eventually opting to bring the issue back for a vote.
After Wednesday’s social session, Carpenter said the District was ready to move forward immediately and would be in contact withe EEC as early as Thursday to get the contract signed and begin work on the training.