Kansas City Public Schools selects Dr. Jennifer Collier as new superintendent

It won’t be official until her contract is ironed out
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 7:49 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The national search for someone to take the helm at Kansas City Public Schools is over.

On Wednesday, the Board of Directors announced Dr. Jennifer Collier as their lone finalist. She had been serving as interim superintendent since Dr. Mark Bedell resigned last summer.

The audience was jubilant. The announcement prompted a standing ovation of applause from the board and the audience.

Board member Tanesha Ford said the board received 17 applicants for the position, interviewed five as initial finalists, had a second round of interviews with the top two candidates, then voted unanimously in closed session Wednesday night to offer the job to Collier.

“Dr. Collier has proven — both in our interviews and in her role as interim — her exceptional leadership, integrity and pride in our school district,” said Ford. “She has our full confidence as an administrator deeply rooted in our schools and community. Dr. Collier has respect for our historical legacy and has true vision for a bright future.”

“Thank you for being a part of Kansas City Public Schools for 20-plus years,” said Jennifer Wolfsie, Board of Education Vice Chair.

Collier has been with the district for 23 years, beginning as a substitute teacher.

WATCH: Jennifer Collier on Kansas City Public School enrollment

Jason Roberts is the president of AFT Local 691, which is the union for KCPS teachers. He wrote an op-ed supporting her for the top spot before the search process even began. All smiles after the announcement, he reiterated the value she brings as someone with institutional knowledge.

“She has risen the ranks of this district from teacher to principal to HR director to deputy superintendent to interim superintendent,” Roberts said. “That is something KCPS has never done, which is to promote from within for the superintendent.”

Kyren Martin came with his toddler to cheer her on. He teaches in neighboring KCK and remarked on how relatable and accessible she has been when he wrote to her seeking career advice.

“She’s always responded to me, uplifting and encouraging me as a new teacher,” Martin said.

The previous superintendent, Dr. Mark Bedell, resigned last summer. That came soon after the accomplishment of getting the district accredited for the first time in decades. He held the top position for six years, longer than most of his predecessors.

Collier was named as interim superintendent and lauded for her role in that accomplishment, as deputy superintendent.

As interim superintendent, she was praised by several speakers last month for how she navigated the sometimes tense process of closing some schools.

“I would like to applaud you on the way you handled the feedback and navigated a process that has got us to a place of calm tonight,” said Alissia Canady, a former city council member.

With contract negotiations still pending, Collier was expected to stay mum for now. However, she couldn’t help herself.

“I am just humbled, she said. “I am honored, and I am super excited about the future of KCPS. I’ll say more later.”

The board expects to make a longer, more formal announcement — and Collier will have more to say — after contract negotiations are completed. All board members would say on a timeframe was “in the near future.”