NewsLocal News


Lee's Summit school board race may offer fresh start after tumultuous years

Posted at 6:04 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-01 20:36:03-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Against the backdrop of nationwide unrest, local leaders in the Kansas City community are calling for more diverse representation in positions of power.

"We're here to talk about how we can get better justice," Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas said on Sunday after a weekend of protests. "We're here to talk about how to change systems. I want y'all to do things like make sure you vote."

Protesters took to the streets for straight days in Kansas City — Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday — to demand justice after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd.

Now, a local school board election in Lee's Summit could mean a new start for for the R-7 School District, which recently has dealt with its share of racial tension.

"I do believe representation is important," school board candidate Megan Marshall said.

Marshall is one of nine candidates running for three positions on the board. She recently retired from the Marine Corps after 20 years and said the leadership instilled her during the time she served also will serve her well on the school board.

If elected, Marshall would also be the first person of color ever voted onto the board.

She said the district needs to emphasize trauma-informed care and better prepare students for the workforce.

"The families and community members that I've had the privilege to speak to, they're just ready to get back to the business of kids and moving forward and welcoming new leadership," Marshall said.

The district's first black superintendent, Dennis Carpenter, resigned after receiving threats and clashing with the board over his plan to bring equity training to the Lee's Summit R-7 School District.

Beto Lopez is the Mayor Pro Tem for Lee's Summit and the only minority only the city council.

While he lives in the Blue Springs School District, he agrees that diversity in every area of government only builds up the city.

"As the population numbers of African American and Latinos, those numbers continue to grow into areas like Lee's Summit, I think your background can really make a difference in these key roles," Lopez said.

Marshall said people she's talked to on the campaign trail are excited for more inclusive representation, but her goals are fixated on bringing back transparency to the school district and helping parents feel like they're a part of the decision-making process again.

"I've just been focused on running a good campaign and making sure I reach as many voters as possible to let them know I'm putting in the hard work and my work will speak for itself," Marshall said.

The school board election is Tuesday.

The only incumbent in the race is Kim Fritchie, who's been on the board since 2017.

The candidates in filing order are: Marshall, David E. Thompson, Matthew A. Niewald, Brian T. Austerman, Fritchie, Kathryn “Kathy” Campbell, Lawrence “Larry” Todd Anderson, Christine T. Bushyhead and Mark Alan Leetch.