Despite turmoil, school starts for Gordon Par - KCTV5

Despite turmoil, school starts for Gordon Parks Elementary

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A closed Kansas City school will officially reopen Wednesday morning after a judge ruled the Missouri Board of Education abused its power when it denied the school's charter application.

Staff at Gordon Parks Elementary had just three short weeks to prepare for this school year. After a judge ruled they did not have to close their doors, staff quickly unpacked for about 80 students who will soon fill the halls.

"We had totally packed the school up. Most rooms were completely empty. Even the room we are in today was basically a shell," said Steve Fleming, the school's executive director.

Despite the quick turnaround, the school's classrooms are once again filled with supplies.

The summer was one of turmoil and triumph for school staff. In May, the Missouri State Board of Education voted against renewing the school's charter, and ordered the school to close at the end of last school year.

"For our children in particular, school is probably the safest, most consistent place for them. When they come here, this is like coming home to them. There were a lot of hard emotions for our kids," said Doug Curry, the president of Gordon Parks Board of Education.

Gordon Parks officials challenged the decision in court. Last month Judge Daniel Green ruled the decision violated state law, and ordered the charter to be renewed.

"We were elated and very excited," Fleming said.

"It was a joyous moment because we are here to fight for the mission of this school, which is serving our most at-risk children," Curry said.

In the judge's ruling in the case, he said the move to deny the school's charter application was unlawful and unreasonable. He said DESE essentially disregarded any information that did not support its premature decision to deny the charter application prior to its submission.

The school once held kindergarten through fifth grade classes. This year it will reopen with only kindergarten, first and second grade classes.

"We had a number of staff members who held out in hopes that we would reopen. They have returned to us," Fleming said.

The fight to keep Gordon parks open is not over, though. The State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, or DESE, could file an appeal in the case.

"These children who live through some pretty uncertain times in their lives, the last thing they need is another court battle with DESE," Curry said.

The teachers who taught third, fourth and fifth grade classes accepted positions at other districts.

The school hopes to once again teach kindergarten through fifth grade classes someday, and they are still searching for some support staff positions, including a librarian and art teacher.

Go to gordonparks.org to find out more about the school and its progress.

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