Confidential Survey: Child's CPS Experience

Happy New Year! With Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s holiday coming up Monday, January 20, I want to encourage everyone to find ways to be "active" in 2020.

First, RMF has been on break since December. We reconvene on January 29 at Bethel Church, 201 Old Plank Rd. If anyone is aware of free meeting space in the Central part of town please let me know. We would like to host centrally located gatherings whenever possible.

We have received a number of emails about the treatment of children in Columbia Public Schools. I am sharing again the confidential survey RMF has created in an effort to proactively respond strategically to what we believe are persistent abuses of children of color and children with special needs. "Confidential Survey: Child's CPS Experience."

Lynn Maloney steps down from RMF Executive Board

10 November 2019

Vice President, Lynn Maloney Steps Down from Race Matters, Friends Executive Board... Offers Closing Thoughts

It was five years ago, and just two nights before Thanksgiving that a group of us came together and created Race Matters, Friends (RMF) as a group to confront racism in Columbia, MO.  A year and a half later, we became formally recognized as a 501(c)3.  

This week I chose to step away from the organization’s Executive Committee.  What I have learned about racism, activism, and the city of Columbia has affected me deeply, and I am proud of the work RMF continues to do as I step back to integrate all that I have experienced.

What I am chewing on right now is the reaction of the Columbia Public School district to RMF’s request for information regarding the district’s social equity work.  As racial disparities for discipline are commonly recognized as a reflection of the school-to-prison pipeline, RMF engaged several school administrators and was assisted by the ACLU in requesting records about the CPS’ equity practices.

From May of this year until the present, we requested records. We had conversations with students, their parents, and administrators in person and via email.  The Chief Equity Officer has demonstrably failed to perform her duties, as outlined in a detailed job description, which was recently removed from the CPS website.  

The upshot?  The Chief Equity Officer, Carla London, filed a police report and protective order for herself and her children against our president.  The judge dismissed both protective orders. Friends have asked me what happened, understanding that this was bizarre.  Others, have simply believed the validity of Ms. London’s unsubstantiated claims. Please read the documents filed by Ms. London, attached here.  You will find no evidence of wrong-doing as accused.  What you will find, is a series of emails between RMF and the Chief Equity Officer asking for questions to be answered.

RMF’s inquiry into racial equity at Columbia Public Schools came after the President of the Missouri NAACP asked us to advocate for a mother whose child had been wrongly arrested by the police department.  Since that time we have learned of four cases pending against CPS regarding harmful disciplinary practices. 

Black millennial scholar and PhD student, Sharon Aniyam joined RMF at our Executive Committee Retreat last weekend.  RMF benefited from hearing about her racial justice activism in the UK.  She also helped us integrate the work of our retreat in this podcast,which she created as part of her research while visiting the US. Listen here:  Retreat Reflections with Race Matters Friends An episode of The Millennial VSCOholar, By The Millennial VSCOholar with (Sharon Aniyam, Traci Wilson-Kleekamp and Lynn Maloney)


Columbia Warrant Amnesty Dec 9-20, 2019

"This warrant amnesty applies to outstanding warrants from Columbia Municipal Court for anyone facing arrest for failing to appear for traffic and parking tickets or other City of Columbia ordinance violations."


November 8, 2019

CONTACT: Andrea Wymer
Municipal Deputy Court Administrator
City of Columbia

Columbia Municipal Court offers warrant amnesty Dec. 9-13 and 16-20, 2019


City of Columbia Municipal Court is offering a warrant amnesty for two weeks, Dec. 9-13 and 16-20, for individuals who wish to turn themselves into the Court. This warrant amnesty applies to outstanding warrants from Columbia Municipal Court for anyone facing arrest for failing to appear for traffic and parking tickets or other City of Columbia ordinance violations.

Individuals who voluntarily turn themselves in will have the outstanding Municipal warrant recalled and will be given an opportunity to resolve the case that day if they so choose or will have a new court date set to resolve the case. Anyone who participates in the warrant amnesty must promise that they will attend all future court dates. A failure to do so will result in a new warrant being issued. Individuals wishing to take advantage of this opportunity may turn themselves in at 9 a.m. each day or on any scheduled docket at Municipal Court, 600 E. Broadway - second floor, each day of the two weeks of Dec. 9-13 and 16-20. Individuals who show up at other times will be placed on the next available docket that day.

Municipal Court hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, including the noon hour. Citizens are able to check to see if they have a warrant on the City of Columbia Municipal Court’s website at this link:

Citizens can visit in person at 600 E. Broadway, email: or call at 573.874.7298 if they have questions.

The decision to offer the warrant amnesty by Municipal Court Judge Cavanaugh Noce is intended to give a person a chance to get back on the right track by resolving or setting their case for a resolution

"A person can choose to be accountable and come in on their own time, or risk being arrested by officers when the warrant amnesty expires. It is my hope that citizens who have been afraid of going to jail will take this opportunity for a fresh start and come in on their own to get their City warrants recalled," Noce said.

City of Columbia Vision
Columbia is the best place for everyone to live, work, learn and play.

City of Columbia Mission
To serve the public through democratic, transparent and efficient government.

(Source: )

Open Letter to Columbia School Board Members

We are writing with regard to RMF’s call for Carla London’s resignation.This letter is a response to the ongoing lack of engagement following the arrest of Ms. Kandas Holmes-Barnes’ daughter in January of this year.While we remain firm in asking for her resignation, we want to comment on the responses we have received from Dr. Stiepleman and London since late Spring of this year.

To date, Dr. Stiepleman’s email responses are rhetorical, overly bureaucratic and deflective. The district’s Sept. 20 response to Ms. Holmes-Barnes May 2, 2019 complaint declares itself not in violation of the district’s AC Policy. Unfortunately, this sparse record was released without the corresponding investigative report or even a summary of key findings. This example extends our belief that CPS is not authentically committed to equity, restorative justice or advocacy for all children. In our view, CPS could release its investigative report, but lacks the political will and courage to do so.

Second, we object to Ms. London’s May 16, 2019 claim via email:

“I’m sure you know, there is always additional information of which people are not aware and I am not at liberty to share with you at this time. It is always disheartening to me to hear a narrative being written with only limited information. I am happy to sit down with you at any time, but can only discuss my interactions with the family in their presence.”

Ms. London could have responded substantively without intimating that there was confidential information about the family that she needed to avoid divulging. Hell, she could have reiterated the district’s commitment to restorative justice and acknowledged that there is continued work to be done at a minimum. She could have apologized for errors in judgment that resulted in a child’s wrongful arrest.

Instead, she chose to undermine a child and a family that has very clearly been harmed by CPS’s behavior both at the school and district level. The veiled reference to information RMF is not allowed to know, that would somehow make the student’s arrest and subsequent targeting by school personnel justified, is malicious in its banality. She easily and intentionally shifts the blame for this “narrative” to a middle school student and her family. This is factually false as well as morally and ethically offensive.

Third, Ms. London erased the material and emotional trauma this student has been caused by Smithton Middle School and now the district. She describes the treatment of the student--as told to RMF as a “narrative” -- recasting the student’s experience as a story and one that has elements of fiction. She is “disheartened” that we do not know the entire set of facts because sure, as we are reasonable people, we would agree that this student is somehow responsible for the behavior of the adults around her. We are supposed to trust the mythical omniscience and goodness of CPS. Ms. London’s deflection marked a child and her experience as disposable. Her lack of advocacy negated a child’s trauma, and marginalized the child’s sense of humanity, value and competence. We reject Ms. London’s assumptions and conjecture as not only embarrassing but irrelevant. RMF finds it shameful that she insists on presenting a mythical narrative of a benevolent and excellent CPS -- despite worsening disparities.

Finally one of our RMF colleagues has twice witnessed Ms. London marginalize a student who has been damaged by CPS -- once during a phone conversation and then in an IEP meeting,Ms. London engaged in this same kind of deflection and disposal of a young life. Ms. London told our colleague that there were things about this family that she wasn’t at liberty to share,but “these things” would undoubtedly change our colleague’s understanding of the situation if she knew them. In an IEP meeting, when a parent and our colleague questioned the decision to call the police on a dis-regulated 10 year old son, both were dismissed and told they didn’t know all the relevant facts. Instead, she insisted that summoning the police supported the district’s desire to promote positive interactions between law enforcement and children of color. Apparently, being handcuffed and arrested for being a dis-regulated child counts as a positive police encounter.

This way of constructing a “narrative” around a child is not an example of valuing their humanity. This erasure of their innocence and vulnerability with a distorted image of CPS asan awesome place for children is well above the reality many of its students face. We have grave doubts about Ms. London’s ability or commitment to advocate for our most vulnerable students.

RMF is asking for CPS to uphold their ideal for restorative justice. At this moment in time there are too many students and their families for whom justice has NOT been restored. We will continue to ask CPS to provide a clear framework for restorative justice, with goals and objectives. If CPS is conducting equity training and restorative practices without knowing who/what needs to be trained or restored, the energy being spent on these activities is futile.

We are demanding the following from CPS:

1.A research-based restorative justice framework, one that commits 100% to students and families, particularly those who are suffering from and enduring over-discipline.

2.An equity audit to determine 3-5 objectives to address for the upcoming school year.

3.For all schools, in particular, Smithton Middle School, a qualitative and quantitative school climate survey to determine the issues that are contributing to the over disciplining of students.

4.Culturally responsive leadership training to prepare our principals who have the desire and willingness to learn, but need substantive support, including modeling and mentoring, to prepare their teachers to be culturally responsive educators.

All the best,

Race Matters, Friends

CPD Officer Faces Discipline for Wrongful Arrest at Smithton Middle School

I think it is appropriate and welcome that Chief Jones made his decision public. We should also understand that these kinds of outcomes are attributable to decisions made by management.

I personally don't support one SRO serving six middle schools for free, partially paid, or for a substantive contract service delivery amount. I object to arresting kids on the whims of school officials' use of hearsay and no investigative effort, not to mention zero conflict resolution effort. I'm not sold at all that SROs provide any kind of better or safe environment for students, particularly students of color.

So -- in a world where kids are a real priority, Dr. Stiepleman would have already jointly apologized with Chief Jones and told the community that they would work together to make sure this doesn't happen again. This would include reviewing their lack of following procedure and protocol and collaboratively developing restorative practice tools rooted in anti-racism. Public apologies are perfect for building trust and so is the kind of transparency that recognizes unforced errors that cause material impact and harm.

Race Matters, Friends is calling for Carla London's resignation because she should have been in front of this issue, supporting her principal, and providing guidance and demanding accountability. Instead, she attempted to marginalize the student and her family as problematic.

CPS has taken no responsibility for their poor judgment and lack of restorative practice when complaints of harassment were made We've seen London's rude apathy too often among administrators towards parents and reports of harassment, bullying, and conflict, and the denials need to stop too.

If the Chief Equity Officer can't manage a serious crisis like this and do it publicly to maintain and build public trust in her office, IMHO, she's unqualified for the job. Is the CPS board awake?

Two misconceptions about systemic racism, debunked

Over the past year and a half, our community and country have been focused on issues of race and racism to a degree unseen since protests against South Africa’s Apartheid system in the 1980s and early 1990s. Mentioning a town called “Ferguson” or a group called “Concerned Citizen 1950” in any gathering will start some lively conversation, to say the least.

Public reactions to events and the protests they sparked have run the gamut from threats on social media to “kill all the blacks” to open approval and support of student protesters’ demands for social justice.

Our group, “Race Matters, Friends,” recognizes the legitimacy of calls for justice from communities of color across the nation and right here in Columbia. Some of our members have personally experienced individual acts of racism, as well as institutional ones (and continue to experience them).
Others of us have husbands, wives, or children who live with almost daily reminders that their skin color is a discomforting presence to the dominant white culture. We listen to their stories and strive to learn more about the historical roots of the concept of race, as well as the acts of systemic and individual racism from which others have often told them to simply move on or to “get over it.”

We realize that some in our community think “systemic racism” is a term that was made up by black students or administration officials on the University of Missouri campus. Others believe individual racism is not a big problem anymore and that the best way to eliminate that which remains is to stop talking about it. Race Matters, Friends disagrees. This piece is the first in a series of opinion pieces through which our group hopes to shed some light on misconceptions about racism and its continued impact on minority communities, specifically black communities.

MISCONCEPTION #1: Civil-rights laws passed in the 1960s leveled the playing field and put black people on an equal footing with white people. Everyone in the United States, no matter their race, has identical opportunities to achieve and succeed. So if black people don’t have good jobs, access to high-quality education, and safe neighborhoods now, it is because they are not hard working or just don’t care.

CORRECTION: For more than 200 years (1600s through the mid-1800s) in what was to eventually become today's United States of America, the economic activity of the majority of white individuals and families contributed to their own wealth — wealth that could be passed onto future generations. During that same period, all labor performed by slaves and their families contributed to the wealth of whites. After emancipation, former slaves received no compensation for their years of unpaid forced labor and horrific treatment. What they did get was 100 years of Jim Crow: segregation laws that included malicious governmental policies and tactics designed to ensure that people of color would not have equal access to good jobs and public education, nor the ability to buy affordable housing in safe neighborhoods.

While the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s resulted in the dismantling of Jim Crow laws, the 50 years since is a fraction of the time needed to overcome 300 years of unequal conditions produced by slavery and discrimination. Additionally, biased and discriminatory practices still operate in many systems of employment, education, housing, and criminal justice today ("systemic racism").

In future pieces, Race Matters, Friends members will provide historical and contemporary data about some of those practices and their impacts on the Columbia community. The first article will discuss disciplinary practices in educational systems that result in higher rates of black students being punished for the same infractions committed by white students and other factors contributing to the achievement gap.

MISCONCEPTION #2: No one alive today had slaves or helped to make the Jim Crow laws. No one chooses what color they are born. So all of this color and racism talk by groups like Race Matters, Friends, serves no purpose except to make matters worse by encouraging black people to get angry and white people to feel guilty or ashamed.

CORRECTION: We at Race Matters, Friends agree that like the old Billy Joel song says, “We didn't start the fire.” As mentioned, the destructive fire of racism has been burning for centuries. However, it was the inability of our ancestors to take honest stock of the plight of freed slaves and to address the inequities in any meaningful way 150 years ago that brings us to this place today. Feeling guilt or shame due to the accident of our birth as people who are identified as “white” serves no purpose. Many of us in Race Matters, Friends are white. We realize that neither feeling is productive. Change is produced first when we step across racial divides and have hard, honest, and often uncomfortable conversations about the very real inequities between whites as a group and people of color. After the conversations, we must then roll up our sleeves and work side-by-side to make our community and country places that truly exemplify the timeless creed of “liberty and justice for all” that most of us grew up believing in and that made us proud to be Americans.

Our hope is that the information we present will stimulate constructive dialogue, answer some questions, and provide some new resources for readers around questions of race, racism, and equity. We welcome anyone who would like to partner with us, to come join us to not only discuss problems but also to work on solutions that will set our country on the path to being an even greater nation. The future of all of our children depends upon it.