By a 7-1 vote, the Kansas City school board has returned Airick Leonard West to his former role of board president.
West was the only member nominated. Keying the move in West’s favor was the acting board president, Derek Richey, who had confirmed before the meeting that he intended to support West.
The board wanted to resolve its leadership question, Richey said, so it will not interfere with the work ahead as the district faces the task of winning public confidence while striving to regain accreditation under interim Superintendent Steve Green.
It also wanted to repair the rift that opened in the wake of former Superintendent John Covington’s stunning resignation Aug. 24.
“The last month has been a great learning experience on how we conduct business,” Richey said before the meeting. “There are ways we can do better. We’ll make the necessary changes to make the tough decisions to come.”
West had been board president but resigned the post amid lingering concerns among some that his leadership style may have frustrated Covington and his administration and that he may have been too involved in district operations. West then decided his resignation had been unnecessary and said he hoped the board would return him to the post.
Richey, who had been vice president with West, said he had wanted to continue his new role as president. Two other board members — Ray Wilson and Joseph Jackson — also emerged as possible candidates as the board sought to break its deadlock.
Wilson was the only vote against West.
But West appeared to be the best option to find a consensus, Richey said. Board members had agreed that it was important tonight that they reach a consensus — or at least a near consensus.
“We all agree on the work that needs to be done,” Richey said.