A Kansas school board member is under fire and facing calls to resign after saying the best quality in a new superintendent would be ‘blue eyes,’ sparking outrage among many parents and staff members.
Vanessa Reid, a board member with Leavenworth school district made the remark during a special school board meeting last month whose agenda was to discuss the hiring of a new superintendent. The current superintendent Mike Roth will be retiring in January 2024.
After the controversial remark Reid said ‘I’m just kidding… trying to break it up a little bit, you know,’ but many didn’t buy the explanation and are now calling for her resignation.
Courtney Ricard, the PTO president at David Brewer Elementary School was one of the board members infuriated. She told the Kansas City Star that Reid’s comment was ‘racist,’ and cited her behavior as ‘immature and unprofessional.’
Ricard was also made furious by a comment Kansas Republican state Republican Pat Proctor made during a recent school visit. After viewing some of the fourth grade student’s artwork, including Ricard’s daughter’s rainbow flag, he said the school library ‘was doing more indoctrinating than educating.’
Vanessa Reid, a board member with Leavenworth school district made the comment during a school board meeting last month that angered parents and school members
Kansas State Republican Pat Proctor made a remark during a visit to the school’s library on a rainbow flag drawing created by Ricard’s daughter as evidence that the library was ‘doing more indoctrinating than educating’
The theme of the art work: ‘My School Library is for Every Student’ asking fourth grade students to draw who is welcome at the school library and Ricard’s daughter drew a rainbow flag (pictured)
Mike Roth, the current superintendent of the Leavenworth school district will be retiring by the end of the year.
Proctor said Reid’s ‘tough questions finally forced the exit of failing Leavenworth superintendent Mike Roth.’
But, Board President Judith Price addressed the claims saying Roth’s ‘announcement was for a long-planned retirement and is not in reaction to anything else.’
‘Dr. Roth is well-regarded by a majority of the board and was offered an extended contract.’
‘Roth will continue to serve through December, to help with the transition of the new superintendent, who will join the district in July,’ Price said.
‘Neither of those actions indicate the board is actively trying to dismiss or force his exit. Quite the contrary.’
The school board voted 5-2 to appoint Kellen Adams, the superintendent in Chanute, Kansas, who is white, as the district’s next leader on Monday.
However, Reid and another school board member Alisa Murphy voted no.
Reid has also been accused of helping Proctor, who was elected in 2021, and other conservative newbies get their agenda out, including at the school board level.
‘Vanessa is committed to putting kids and parents ahead of administrators and the Teachers’ Union. She isn’t afraid to ask tough questions and demand answers.’
In his latest newsletter, Proctor wrote that he is standing by Reid.
‘I am proud to stand with conservative School Board Member Vanessa Reid in her fight to protect our kids’ from the radical woke agenda that threatens Leavenworth Schools,’ he said.
But the PTO president, whose child is a student at the school, claims that it is Reid’s job to ‘protect our children’ and called for Reid to resign during Monday’s school board meeting.
‘The immature behavior of a certain board member is unprofessional to say the least and quite frankly, I’m embarrassed she represents us,’ Ricard said. ‘
‘Being a board member is supposed to be a (nonpartisan) position.’
Leavenworth father Harry Schwarz, a Democrat who lost to Proctor for the House seat last year, agreed with Ricard and did not find Reid’s comment appropriate.
‘It may have been a joke. You may have been trying to be funny, but I don’t think that’s the time or place to be making that joke,’ he said.
He added: ‘At first, I took it as what does someone’s physical characteristics have to do with the job they’re doing? And then I had someone point out to me, why blue eyes?
I’m not accusing anyone of being racist, but it was inappropriate and it sits uneasy with me.’
An image of David Brewer Elementary School in Kansas
Conservative School Board member Vanessa Reid (pictured) with Republican State Senator Pat Proctor. Reid has been accused of helping Proctor, who was elected in 2021, and other conservative newcomers get their agenda out including at the school board level
Many parents rallied around Ricard and also expressed their anger towards the congressman claiming that he used her daughter’s artwork without permission as a way to further his political agenda.
She also claimed that Reid ‘betrayed the students’ by allowing her child’s drawing to be critiqued while other students also showed their support for the LGBTQ community.
‘My daughter has the kindest heart. She is the sweetest child and wants everyone to feel loved and included. That was her message. She was trying to spread love. He is spreading hate,’ Ricard told the Star.
The school library aide, Brandi Bond spoke at Monday’s meeting in support of Ricard.
‘This local politician is attacking our schools. What’s even more disappointing is one of our very own board members is joining this attack, someone who took an oath,’ Bondi said.
‘They’re trying to tear down what we’ve worked so hard to create, a safe, inclusive space for all of our students,’ Bond said.
‘These individuals coming into our buildings pose a risk to our students. As a parent of a high school student, I am nervous that they could target my son next because his work may not align with their agenda.’
The Republican senator stood by his decision to share the student’s drawing saying that he felt it was ‘impossible to believe that all of these kids, spontaneously, drew the same thing.’
It was clear that they were either instructed or encouraged to do so by the librarian. I don’t think this is an appropriate subject to be discussing with eight and nine year-olds,’ Proctor said.
‘And I know most of my constituents feel the same way I do. I felt I had a duty to share what I had found with them, so that they would know what their kids were being exposed to in our schools.’
Reid participated in Monday night’s board meeting over Zoom and has not publicly commented on the fiasco.