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Kansas City school board member Airick Leonard West has a new job, a new name

Airick Leonard West is undertaking “the adult adoption process to change his name to A.J. Crabill.”
Airick Leonard West is undertaking “the adult adoption process to change his name to A.J. Crabill.”

Kansas City Public Schools board member Airick Leonard West has a new high-ranking job as a deputy commissioner of education for the state of Texas.

The Texas Education Agency last month hired West, under the name A.J. Crabill, as its new deputy commissioner of governance.

According to the Texas agency, West, 36, is undertaking “the adult adoption process to change his name to A.J. Crabill.”

Crabill is the surname of Dick and Linda Crabill, the couple who helped raise him as foster parents.

West did not respond to telephone calls or emails requesting comment on his name change and new position.

Texas officials said the state’s education commissioner, Mike Morath, chose West to fill one of five new deputy positions being created under a reorganization of the agency.

The position comes with a salary in the range of $11,272 to $19,065 a month and is responsible for leading all agency efforts to support the state’s independent school district and charter school boards.

The Dallas Morning News reported that new LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts have been created for an “A.J. Crabill” who lives in Austin. The new accounts do not include the name “Airick West” anywhere and do not mention his time in Kansas City.

West, a computer expert, chose not to run in Tuesday’s election for the Kansas City school board. His time on the board officially ends April 13. He has only two votes left, “to declare his presence next Wednesday and to certify the results of the election,” said school board president Jon Hile.

Hile said he didn’t know about West’s new job, nor did he know West had moved to Texas.

He said, “Airick has served the community very well for the past eight years. I wish him well in endeavors whatever they may be.”

West became involved in the education scene in 2006 when he conceived and helped carry out a pilot program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Urban Education called “The Ivanhoe Project.” The program placed urban education students in inner-city living arrangements so they might better understand the environmental and social circumstances that affect the lives of their future students.

A self-proclaimed community activist, West first ran for the school board in 2008 on a “unity platform,” defeating incumbent Bill Eddy. By 2010, West was named board president and helped set up a “school board school” to prepare citizens to be board candidates.

The board, which had developed a reputation for dissonance, operated in relative harmony during his time on the governing body.

According to the Dallas paper, on Jan. 22, West was well received as a panelist at the Texas Tribune symposium on urban public education at the University of Texas at El Paso. Four days later, A.J. Crabill created a new website listing the registrant’s address as along Martin Luther King Drive in Austin.

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc

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