© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Johnson County school district meetings grow more ‘angry’ and ‘distrustful’ over mask policies

Ways To Subscribe
A photo of 11 people, male and female, seated at tables draped with grey cloths and arranged in a semicircle, each with a computer or laptop in front of them. Some are wearing protective masks.
Leah Wankum
Shawnee Mission Post
School board meetings have changed dramatically in tone during recent months throughout the country.

School board meetings held a reputation for being tame — even boring — affairs focusing on things like student achievement and bond issues. Now, it's a totally different ballgame.

In the last several months, these meetings have often developed into events that include demands and threats from people present at the meeting, even warranting a police presence on occasion.

Kyle Palmer is the editor of the Shawnee Mission Post. He says that while school board meetings in Johnson County, Kansas, have not risen to that level, it's still certainly a quite different atmosphere.

"The tone of these meetings, I think is fair to say... more angry, accusatory at times, distrustful," says Palmer. "A lot of these meetings start with public comment periods and these times are often filled with a parade of people frequently opposed to the district's policies on things like masks."

Aaron Schwartz is a local high school English and rhetoric teacher who bemoans the current trend present at modern school board meetings. He says it causes people to lose sight of the actual debates at hand.

"When I try to teach my students the principles of argument, debate, what is fair," Schwartz elaborates. "To have this be their model in the community is, I think, absolutely embarrassing."

Stay Connected
When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As a producer for Up To Date, my goal is to inform our audience by curating interesting and important conversations with reliable sources and individuals directly affected by a topic or issue. I strive for our program to be a place that hosts impactful conversations, providing our audience with greater knowledge, intrigue, compassion and entertainment. Contact me at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz.
As Up To Date’s senior producer, I construct daily conversations that give our listeners context to the issues of our time. I strive to provide a platform that holds those in power accountable, while also spotlighting the voices of Kansas City’s creatives and visionaries that may otherwise go unheard. Email me at zach@kcur.org.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.