Elected St. Louis school board fights on against state control

Wednesday, July 18, 2007 | 11:46 a.m. CDT; updated 3:44 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

ST. LOUIS — The elected city school board has vowed not to give in to state intervention that last month handed control of the district to an appointed board.

The elected board Tuesday night acknowledged that Superintendent Diana Bourisaw is no longer accountable to them and demanded that the chief executive officer of the new board, Rick Sullivan, answer questions about the short- and long-term future of the district, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Board member William Purdy referred to the CEO as an “emperor” and “czar.”

And board member Donna Jones thundered “hell no” to Vice President David Jackson’s proposal that the board “cease and desist” until a judge acts on its challenge to permanently dismantle the intervention and appointed board.

“I’d like to say no way,” Jones said. “We’re not giving up the ship. We’re not giving up anything.”

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education created the state-appointed special administrative board in June, after the school district lost its accreditation. The unelected board is meant to steer the district out of financial and personnel woes that have plagued it for years.

Board President Peter Downs refused to allow Jackson to present his resolution to the board in the form of a motion Tuesday.

Although the elected board is no longer in control, Downs said, it remains a duly elected body.

Jackson also suggested the elected board members ask the administrative board members to meet with them to discuss the district’s direction.

Sullivan has said the new board will not meet with the elected board until it drops its lawsuit. Purdy said he believes the elected board will prevail in its legal challenge to the intervention.

The board had prepared a list of 19 questions it hoped to pose to Bourisaw, but she did not attend the meeting at Sullivan’s direction.

Downs said Bourisaw no longer has a valid contract with the elected board based on court decisions that have so far upheld the administrative board’s governance of the district.

Downs called on Sullivan to address questions the board had originally posed to Bourisaw about layoffs, textbook acquisitions, the district’s food service contract and other matters.

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