Angry Group Opposed to A.C.E. School Takeover Derails District Workshop

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A group of upset parents and students derails plans for some give-and-take on the future of a local school Monday.

Earlier this year, Kansas City Public Schools said it would take over the African-centered education, or A.C.E., program.  The district cited accuracy issues with finances and academic reports filed by the group which ran the school under contract with the district.

The district wants to begin the discussion on reshaping the school in three workshops Monday.  But the first workshop was taken over by about 50 parents, students and other supporters who are still up in arms about what they call a hostile takeover by the district of the school.

The group filed into an auditorium at the Paseo Academy of the Fine and Performing Arts, making it clear they thought the school was doing fine without district interference.

Before the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green told Fox 4, he was interested in making sure parents get the right information about the transition. He said the current contract it has with those who run A.C.E. will be terminated at the end of June. Green said the conversation with parents is just starting, and changes are evolving.  But he also assured parents the African-centered model is here to stay because it works.

"We don't want to dismantle or destroy any of that we want to build upon that," he said.

But as the workshop started, the group started chanting over a district consultant there to facilitate the meeting.  Group members told the district they didn't need it's help and said Green hasn't been up front about the takeover.  They also claim he has never spoken directly to them or step foot on campus.

"All we can do is react to his public comments and what he puts in the press, so if it's misinformation, it's his fault, "said Spark Bookhart, a spokesperson for the A.C.E. parents opposed to the take over.

After half an hour, the district wanted to address media about what was going on, and moved into a cafeteria.

"They're making a choice by continuing in that direction and that's their choice and for those who want to make another choice we're going to make sure that they get that information," Green said.

Those parents who did want information went to the cafeteria with concerns about uniforms, extracurricular programs, or who their children's teachers would be.  Green said all teachers would have to go through an interview process again and the district would hire the best individuals for the job.

But this dialogue was short-lived as the group opposed to the take-over marched into the cafeteria, chanting once again.  District administrators tried talking to parents over the noise before the group finally left.

Donna Jackson, a parent who is not affiliated with the group, said she can understand their frustration.

"But on the other hand, come on let's work together," she said.

Green said the district will continue to hold its three workshops May 1 at the Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts.  The schedule is as follows:

4 to 5:30 p.m.
6 to 7:30 p.m.
8 to 9:30 p.m.

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