District board meeting recap June 24


photo by Grace Altenhofen

Superintendent Michael Fulton unveils the district’s new strategic plan with the help of parent, teacher and student representatives from the steering committee.

Grace Altenhofen, Guest Contributor

The following is a summary of the June 24 SMSD Board of Education meeting. 


  • Adoption of agenda; approval of minutes from May 29 regular meeting and June 17 special meeting


  • Superintendent’s Report
    • Summer enrichment programs are happening within the district
    • SMEF is holding its annual leadership program
    • SM West students earned Blue Star awards for their success in theater
    • A local artist donated a work of art and several art books to Shawnee Mission schools
    • The Kansas City Star named several SMSD students as scholar athletes
    • Forbes has named SMSD one of the best employers in the state of Kansas


  • Board Reports
    • Sara Goodburn said the policy committee has been working on updates to the policy about student publications as required by the settlement agreement with the ACLU; they are also discussing possible future policies and exploring language for a possible non-discrimination ordinance in the future 


  • Board Financial Report


  • Public Comments
    • A teacher at Trailridge Middle School spoke about the lack of professional development and work time in schools
    • A parent of an elementary student spoke about the school and district’s lack of action when her daughter was repeatedly harassed by another student in the classroom
    • A parent questioned the district’s hiring practices when the principal at her child’s elementary school was unresponsive to concerns, forcing her to go up the chain of command; she also alleged that the principal had been let go from two other schools before being hired at SMSD
    • Kathy Habiger, a journalism advisor at Mill Valley High School and representative of the Kansas Scholastic Press Association, voiced concerns regarding the proposed policy updates about student publications, citing potential violations of the Kansas Student Publications Act
    • Grace Altenhofen, plaintiff in the now-settled ACLU lawsuit against the district alleging First Amendment and Kansas Student Publications Act, said the language of the proposed student publications policy could open up student publications to further censorship on the part of the district


  • KESA Presentation
  • Superintendent Fulton was joined by a parent, teacher and student who were part of the strategic plan steering committee to unveil the strategic plan


  • Approval of consent agenda


  • First reading of proposed student publications and student assembly and speech policies; Superintendent Fulton said the policy committee welcomes public feedback as they revise the policies before the second reading


  • Approval of action items, including approval of strategic plan


  • Board Comments
    • Heather Ousley reminded everyone of a board resolution stating that ICE cannot remove children from a school 
    • Deb Zila, Brad Stratton and Patty Mach thanked Deputy Superintendent Kenny Southwick for his service to the district