LEE’S SUMMIT, MO (KCTV) -- Lee’s Summit’s first black school superintendent is out after nearly a year of turmoil over racial equity training. His resignation comes with a payout. The previous superintendent resigned over a conflict of interest scandal and was also paid when he left.
One question KCTV5 News has seen you asking on Facebook is, “Where could that money go?”
KCTV5 News did the math and Dr. Dennis Carpenter's payout is $750,000. The payout to the previous superintendent, Dr. David McGehee, was $450,000.
That's $1.2 million total. The starting salary for a Lee's Summit teacher next school year is about $40,000. So the money from those two payouts would pay for 30 teachers.
If you look at Twitter and Facebook, you’ll see the word racist levied on both sides, for and against the superintendent. But face-to-face, the opinions are more subdued.
At a local park, many parents didn’t want to touch the issue, well aware that it’s a sensitive one. But one dad was indifferent, saying his grade school and high school sons have a diverse group of friends, and he never felt any tension.
“It’s a normal day. They don’t really come home with any type of issues in that area,” Richard Wilson who is a parent, said.
But for months, tension was high at school board meetings. The superintendent was criticized for a focus on white privilege in racial equity training. He received private messages concerning enough to have the sheriff at times provide security at his home.
People of color were vocally frustrated with two board votes against equity training contracts. The superintendent threatened to quit over the conflict, then the board approved the plan it had rejected just a month earlier. It’s unclear why the superintendent quit after he’d succeeded with that.
“I think that it’s unfortunate. It’s sad. But I don’t know what it’s like to be in his shoes, in his position, you know?” Lutisia Taylor who is also a parent, said.
Carpenter’s lawyer wrote he left, “After several days of deep reflection about the long-term best interests of the children…and philosophical differences with members of the board.”
The district’s statement said, in part, “We acknowledge that the last several months have been difficult with a range of emotions involved, but we know we are up for the challenge before us to push into the future together.”
“I just make sure my kid gets good grades in school and work with the teachers on parent teacher conference nights,” Brian Drew who is a parent, said.
For that parent, the only concern is the money being spent to part ways. And even the woman disappointed said it’s not enough to send her packing.
“I like it in Lee’s Summit. I think we’re going to deal with issues everywhere but I feel like we’ve still got a long ways to go,” Taylor said.
We don’t know what was included in the negotiations to part ways, because the agreement included a clause that neither party would discuss. The district said part of the settlement would be paid from its insurance policy.
Dr. Emily Miller has been named acting superintendent. She’s been an assistant superintendent since 2012 and before that, worked as a teacher for the district.