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Search Is Formally On For New Shawnee Mission School Superintendent

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

Outgoing Shawnee Mission School Superintendent Jim Hinson was absent from Monday night's board meeting but he was the subject of much discussion.

The board officially accepted Hinson's resignation and started to lay out plans to search for his successor.

Hinson, who has headed the district for the past four years, unexpectedly announced his retirement last week. His last day is June 30.

Several members of the public asked the school board to hold off on hiring a new superintendent until after the November elections. Three board positions will be on the ballot.

One of those asking for a delay was Tucker Polling, a parent from Prairie Village. He said Hinson "lost some trust with the district."

Board President Sara Goodburn said members were going to start working immediately on a search timeline, but she wouldn't say whether the board would wait until after November. It took six months to hire Hinson four years ago.

The board also passed a tough resolution on when federal immigration agents or local police can take a child out of a school building.

"That the Board of Education believes that a safe and inviting environment would be disrupted by the presence of active immigration and naturalization enforcement occurring at a school and during school hours," the resolution read in part.

The action came after a nine-year-old boy at Briarwood Elementary was taken out of school by Prairie Village police after his mother was detained by ICE agents. 

"There are many ways to enforce our immigration laws," Shawnee Mission Schools Police Chief John Douglas told the board when he presented the resolution. "Schools is not one of them."

The resolution, which was unanimously approved, also stressed the district doesn't care where a student is from. "It is the policy of the Shawnee Mission School District not to ask about nor provide information about a student’s immigration status or that of family members."

The resolution was written in consultation with El Centro, which provides a range of services to Latinos in Wyandotte and Johnson counties.

El Centro President Irene Caudillo says many Latinos were already worried and the resolution eases their fears about sending their kids to school. “This whole outside world that they’re dealing with right now with a lot of fear and anxiety, if it gets in the schools, everyone then suffers,” she says.

Caudillo says she also helped the Kansas City, Kansas district write its policy and is working with the Olathe district now.

Sam Zeff covers education for KCUR and the Kansas News Service and is co-host of the political podcast Statehouse Blend Kansas. Follow him on Twitter @SamZeff.

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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