ACE supporters rally against district takeover

The founders of Kansas City’s African-centered education program summoned all the campus’s children, staff and its drum corps Friday to rally against the school district’s plan to take it over.

Parents like Catherine Brown came out, listening to community leaders and preachers and 11-year-old Isis Thompson, who vowed, “By any means necessary, we will not be moved.”

Brown, who has four children on the K-12 campus, said she would have some difficult decisions to make.

Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Steve Green has announced that the school district will operate the African-centered program next year, ending the often rocky relationship with the Afrikan Centered Education Taskforce Inc.

Green has not changed his mind.

The school district will be scheduling meetings soon to talk with parents and children about what they would like to see in the African-centered programming going forward.

They will want parents like Brown to be a part of that.

But if the district isn’t bringing back the leadership team, led by Audrey Bullard and the task force, Brown said, her hard choice will be figuring out where outside the district she can send her children.

“We’re already looking,” she said. “That’s the voice of many parents on this campus.”

The school district remains committed to providing an African-centered education school, Green said earlier this week. But concerns and conflicts with the task force and its contract prompted him to end the contract after this school year.

Friday, district spokeswoman Eileen Houston-Stewart said the district understands that parents will have to make the best decisions they can for their children.

“We’re opening it up to them (to help plan the school),” she said.

So far, “about a dozen” parents have filed forms with the district saying they intend to re-enroll next year, she said. The district hopes to draw more interest from the campus, which has about 1,000 students from kindergarten through high school, from the meetings to come.

Task force leaders and supportive pastors called on the crowd to keep pressuring Green to change course. Going back 20 years when Bullard was principal of Chick Elementary School, they said, the African-centered programming that she brought to Kansas City has been one of the strongest in the district in achievement and parental involvement.

Task force board member Linwood Tauheed urged the crowd to “wrest power from those who think they have it.”

“I’m asking all of you to stay in this fight,” he said. “Stay in this struggle.”