We received the following comments from Dave Coazd regarding the recent Académie Lafayette Marvin Lyman/PTSO incident.
I resigned during the board’s closed session discussion of the PTSO meeting events, and to respect the confidentiality of that discussion I have no comment on the specifics of the board’s actions during that session. My resignation speaks for itself.
I will say generally that I believe that the integrity of the parent-elect board member election is very important. The board should not directly interfere with the integrity of the election by publicly supporting or criticizing individual candidates or platforms.
More broadly. I believe that race and diversity issues deserve and need attention at A.L. Today, tomorrow, and always. But I also believe that the school is best served when the board has a constructive working relationship with parents.The board should listen to parents, not lecture them. And engage them, not attack them. I hope the A.L. school community will be able to have thoughtful, respectful, fact-based dialogue about race and diversity issues, and move forward together to ensure the school is a place where all feel welcome and the needs of all students are met.
Attached is a letter to the community from Mr. Zeller and myself.
I wish Académie Lafayette all the best going forward.
Directly below is the letter.
Dear Académie Lafayette Community,
As you might know by now, we resigned from the Board of Directors during a closed-session meeting Monday night because we do not support its current approach to the parent base and its stance on high school expansion.
It has been a privilege to work both for you and with you. By coming together as a school community, we achieved a lot of good things for our growing number of students and families over the last decade. We stand in awe of the work Académie Lafayette teachers and staff perform every day. They are the primary reason the school’s children are such remarkably happy and engaged learners, and how they routinely score among the top schools in Missouri on nearly every measure. Standing right behind them are the AL parents and families who give so much of their time, talent, and money to make this the caring school and successful community it is. Thank you.
As long-time board officers, we also want to thank you for pushing us. You asked hard questions, demanded answers, gave us good ideas, and continually challenged us to do better for kids. It was painful at times, but you guided us and helped us make better decisions. This close and sometimes-messy interaction is at the heart of the charter school movement and it’s one of the reasons Académie Lafayette has come to be such an excellent program. As you know, the board is accountable to you, its primary stakeholder; and we hope you continue to do big things for Kansas City kids, together.
The greatest threat this school faces is complacency. When organizations mature, they sometimes lose their esprit de corps and their drive to get better. It’s easy to slip into a place where the going is good so you assume it always will be, where you think, “I don’t need to volunteer or to lead, someone else will.” Please don’t let that happen at your school.
The issue of race and diversity is receiving needed attention at schools and universities across the country, and we believe it needs to be addressed at A.L. too. These are complex and emotional issues that involve forces well beyond the school; but we are confident that Académie Lafayette can nonetheless make progress in the manner you always have: through respectful, constructive and fact-based dialogue. It will require trusted and engaged leadership, but you can create a safe environment where all stakeholders (board members, parents, teachers, administrators) can openly share their views and can come together around solutions. Académie Lafayette is an open-enrollment public school that must be a place where everyone feels welcome, participates, and the needs of all of its students and families are met.
Finally, the really important thing we left undone is providing an IB high school option for A.L. families; but we remain deeply committed to making this happen. While A.L. leadership continues to examine its possibilities, we are exploring an alternative path. We are assembling a diverse team of civic leaders, educators and philanthropists in an effort to launch an independent, college-prep high school with enough scale and resources to be truly world-class. Without placing any stress on the A.L. K-8 program, this independent high school would become large enough to accommodate A.L. graduates along with other college-bound students from across the city. And, just as it was for the founders of Académie Lafayette and for the opening of the Cherry Campus, this will be a community effort. So, please stay tuned . . . we’ll need your help.
Dave Cozad & Mike Zeller
Past President and Vice President, Académie Lafayette BOD