The Shawnee Mission School District has a list of expectation for the newly hired superintendent, Michael Fulton, the former Missouri Superintendent of the Year from suburban St. Louis. Unfortunately, none of them has anything to do with making smart kids smarter.

As reported in the Kansas City Star, Board members, allegedly channeling community desires, “wanted a leader who could heal the fractured relationship between district employees and an administration that many felt had become autocratic and uncompromising during the previous superintendent’s tenure.”

They also wanted “an educator accustomed to being a leader for a diverse school community, one who could empower and equip teachers and staff to support special education, minority or financially struggling students.”

Finally, they “wanted a person who would keep the community in-the-loop regarding administrative decisions, and seek feedback from teachers, parents and students along the way.”

Smart, ambitious kids seem to be getting the boot at Shawnee Mission.

That’s it. For those parents who moved into the Shawnee Mission district based in part on its historic reputation for academic excellence, there is not even a nod. These ambitious parents and their smart children can take little consolation from the board’s decision making process.

Reading between the lines it would seem that the Shawnee Mission School District has decided to surrender permanently its pole position in the race for academic excellence to the Blue Valley School District.

“He has navigated that and chartered a course in his district where his students that may not have equal access at home are performing just as well as the students with lots of resources,” new board member Heather Ousley said of Fulton. “That is something we are looking for in our district.”

In a public school district, the only way students with “lots of resources” will perform at the same level as those with minimal home resources is if the needs of the former are slighted. If Ousley, an outspoken liberal, is speaking for the board, conscientious parents might begin to think about moving south. The name of the game at Shawnee Mission now seems to be managing decline.

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