The Kansas City, Kansas school board chose Charles Foust as the district’s next superintendent in a meeting Tuesday night.
The 5-2 vote to select Foust elicited gasps and a loud boo from an audience of around 100 people.
One of the main concerns of community members was Foust’s lack of ties to Kansas City, Kansas. He is currently the chief school performance officer at Union County Public Schools in North Carolina.
Board member Janey Humphries voted against Foust’s selection and says the community feedback she got overwhelmingly supported Jayson Strickland, the current deputy superintendent. Strickland graduated from the district’s Washington High School and has worked for decades in Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools.
Raqeisha Portley works in the district’s central office and supported Strickland. She said the decision will hurt staff morale.
“Even if you’re in a home and you feel like you don’t have a voice your morale goes down, and we just found out that our voice is mute. We don’t have a say,” Portley said.
Board vice-president Valdenia Winn said she voted for Foust because she wants to see KCKPS make improvements in student achievement, teacher effectiveness and class sizes. Winn said Foust had a plan.
“The board understands it has critics who do not have the facts but that’s understandable but that we have a job to 22,000 students,” Winn said.
Frieda Tresvan, a parent of two kids at McKinley Elementary School, said she welcomes the change Foust will bring.
Her fifth grade son is in special education and reads at a first grade level. She said wants the district to acknowledge that it’s failing kids in specific areas and to create a plan for addressing gaps.
“This mom is begging for change,” Tresvan said.
The board also hired an interim superintendent while Foust moves to Kansas.
Aviva Okeson-Haberman is a KCUR news intern.