Southwest High School

Four and a half months after the aborted launch of United at Southwest comes Uniting at Southwest. 1

The new cloud-based WIX web site is attractive, the design a fairly standard (and therefore ubiquitous) presentation, and the copy… Well, let’s talk about the copy. As we noted of the first United at Southwest site, there’s no there there; mostly it’s promotional copy, leavened with a promotional video. 2

However there is some data: The list of individuals on their advisory group has expanded to represent not just the Port Authority 3, but the Mayor’s office, as well as several well-known Kansas City community leaders and noted business figures.

There are still uncertainties; while Uniting at Southwest says a partnership with KCPS is necessary, the group is also hawking the XQ: The Super Schools Project. It is unclear who would own the building, much less who would be in charge of the day-to-day administration and teaching; what –exactly– would the curriculum be? Would a XQ template be used? Which one? And how would that be implemented? Would this be a “test in” high school? If so, where would the entrance bar be set? And if not, how would acceptance to the school work? Will the school branch out from its (so far minimally) stated goals and attempt to “fix” cultural segregation?

These and many, many, many more queries all go unanswered.

Which is fair enough, we suppose. After all this is nothing (yet) but a marketing campaign, released with the obvious hopes of whipping up and channeling long-term dissatisfaction with the KCPS product into a force that might override the objections of the usual players 4, as well as convince Dr. Bedell to discard the KCPS master plan that calls for Southwest to reopen as a middle school. 5

We wish them luck. 6

Afternoon Update: From commenter Gloria, who reached out to Dr. Bedell’s office:

“There is a group in the Southwest corridor that is trying to rally support to open a charter-esque high school in that building. We have spoken with the leaders of the organization but are not currently involved in the project. I hope this answers your questions. Please let me know if you need anything further.” 7

My 2017 NCAA Bracket

Show 7 footnotes

  1. Though ICANN shows the group waited to claim the CN, through Network Solutions, until February 15, 2017. The ownership of the domain is hidden behind Perfect Privacy. The email for information is as follows: Think the money behind this effort wants to talk with anyone? yeah, me neither.
  2. Produced by XQ – The Super School Project.
  3. As of April 18th –when WNBTv first revisited the web site– Joe Perry is still listed, but as a Public Supporter; he decoupled himself from The Port Authority…but still works there.
  4. Freedom, Inc., KC’s Black United Front, MORE2, SCLC, Urban League & the Urban Summit.
  5. Which means you should expect to see/hear a UASW spokesperson (probably Zeller) on KCPT’s Ruckus and/or KCUR’s Up To Date soonish.
  6. Further information on XQ: XQ Competition Results; Education Next review of the XQ design completion;  Education Weekly blog post about XQ.
  7. Hmmm. Possibilities: Dr. Bedell granted the group the courtesy of a meet-and-greet while remaining noncommittal; the good doctor  enthusiastically supported and encouraged the group behind closed doors only (for fear of upsetting previously named community organizations); the good doctor wanted no part of it. It boggles the mind – why not come right out and say whether you support the Uniting at Southwest efforts? What does that cost you, we wonder?


Our Friend just emailed us; he’s heard the KCPS Board will be making a significant announcement today at high noon..

No one answers at KCPS Public Relations to confirm 1, but Our Friend swears his source is spot on. So, without stealing anyone’s thunder, we thought a small hint was in order… 23


12:30 Update: KCPS just announced an Académie Lafayette/KCPS partnership wherein Académie Lafayette will use Southwest to open an International Baccalaureate high school starting in 2015. Will post the video when it becomes available.

13:30 Update: The Star story. KCTV5 edited down their 30 minute live coverage of the KCPS/Académie Lafayette announcement into a 2 minute vid below:


Below is the complete text of an AL Newsletter released to the Al community:

June 20, 2014

Dear Académie Lafayette Community,

We want to share some exciting news about our school and its future.

First, our three-year capital campaign is nearly complete. With the recent $500,000 gift we received from the Walton Family Foundation, we are just $500,000 away from reaching our $3 million fundraising goal. Once we reach $3 million we will receive the $500,000 challenge grant from the Hall Family Foundation. That is huge. Thank you to everyone who has helped get us to this point


The generous gifts we have received will enable us to break ground this summer on the major classroom addition at Cherry Street, and also restore reliable heat at the Oak campus by replacing the 80-year-old boilers. Over the next fifteen months, we will do a host of other needed improvements to the buildings, play areas, and grounds at both the Oak and Cherry Street campuses. We will improve our academic program by adding the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program and enhanced classroom technology. And we will also continue our outreach and recruiting programs to increase interest in AL in families all across the city. 


There is also an exciting development to report in our plans for an AL high school. As you are probably aware, for the past several months, the AL Board has been in negotiations with the Foutch Brothers development company to lease the former Westport High School for the location of AL’s high school. However, a better opportunity has presented itself in ongoing conversations with the Kansas City Public Schools.

Today we are announcing our intention to enter into an agreement with Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) to operate an Académie Lafayette International Baccalaureate charter high school to be located at Southwest High School, 6512 Wornall Road, beginning in the 2015-2016 school year! The Southwest location has many favorable aspects including:

  • Southwest has lower utilization costs as compared to other locations;
  • Southwest has ample room for growth;
  • The building has space to accommodate academic and community partners;
  • At the Southwest building, students will not have to share space with private residences (as was the case with our proposed Westport deal);
  • The future of the Southwest location is not tied to the finances of a private developer.

The AL high school will be a public charter school autonomously governed and operated by the Académie Lafayette Board of Directors, faculty and staff. Académie Lafayette will have long-term, exclusive use of the premises at Southwest. The extension of this charter will in no way detract from the current activities at Oak and Cherry campuses. An entirely new staff and administration will be hired for the high school and will thus not adversely affect our excellent K-8 program.

AL middle school 8th grade graduates are automatically eligible to attend the high school if they choose. Additional open seats will be filled by students residing within the KCPS boundaries. Because this will be a rigorous, college preparatory program, non-AL students entering the AL high school in 9th grade will have to meet the same academic requirements as students applying for admission to Lincoln College Prep High School.

KCPS students who currently attend school at the Southwest location will be working with the district over the next school year to figure out their best choice moving forward. In order to aid in that transition, two parent forums will be held by the district for families of current Southwest students. Southwest families will receive guidance in one-on-one meetings to help make the right choice for their student. Public forums over the summer will solicit community feedback about this unique opportunity.

For AL families, we have a lot more information to share about these exciting developments and encourage you to attend one of the following parent forums to learn more and ask questions.

  • Tuesday June 24 at 5:30 p.m., Oak Street campus
  • Thursday June 26 at 5:30 p.m., Cherry Street campus

It is a historic day when the Kansas City Public Schools and a successful charter school like Académie Lafayette can enter into a partnership for the future that will benefit thousands of Kansas City students. This is a progressive move for urban education, unlike anything that has been done before in the Kansas City metro region.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to Académie Lafayette. We look forward to seeing you at one of the two upcoming forums.



David Cozad                                           Elimane Mbengue

P.S. Also attached is Mayor Sly James’ statement about today’s announcement, as well as the joint press release to the media.

The Mayor’s statement

Press release

Rêves doux

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Since they’re busy readying the press release…
  2. If Our Friend is correct, this news will make the Brookside community extremely happy, solve a pressing issue for noted charter school Académie Lafayette, and shift a significant segment of KCPS scholars elsewhere. We would expect some negative reaction from the KCPS community proper (perhaps even from one or two “enlightened” columnists), but we also expect that the Star has already been quietly notified of the event and are prepared to publish at least 2 or 3 supportive editorials/columns on the subject.
  3. If Our Friend is in error…we’ll dine on that particular bird later.