Sells' Racist Comments and Apology

"Rock Bridge High School Football Fields" seem sufficient to me.

Commodifying our public school facilities with the names of living people is just pathetic. Wayne Sells has both some intellectual and historical maturing to do. He neither understands the Black Lives Matter movement nor the historical and ongoing political protest against serial police brutality.

The message from our community needs to be "Racism is UnAmerican"

This ridiculous conflating of kneeling to demand justice as somehow an offensive gesture to veterans is a bunch of made-up gobbledygook out of white ignorance and fear. Until Sells recognizes the racist ideas he is propagating are contrived from his own socialization based on ignorance and white racial resentment, he’s incapable of apologizing.

What should happen is authentic recognition and acknowledgment of his racist ideas, alongside authentic public atonement and reconciliation. His response (that blasphemous letter) was self-centered, petulant and arrogant; and altogether irrelevant. He needs to sign up for some Black Studies, Women and Gender Studies classes at MU! Hell, even Sociology will undo historical misinformation. Kristin Kopp teaches a fabulous class in the Spring called the History of Blacks in Germany.

The message from our community needs to be Racism is UnAmerican. Mr. Sells believes Black Americans should not protest or demand any kind of justice. This is a sickness that forgiveness and apologies can not cure. It requires action on behalf of the person with racist ideas and antiracist white people who need to hold him and his insufferably racist friends accountable. In the name, honor, and memory of Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg I pray...

Referenced or Related Articles

McKinney, R. (Sep 16, 2020). Columbia schools move to rename football field after ‘racist’ Facebook post. Columbia Tribune

McKinney, R. (Sep 17, 2020). Sells asks to remove his name from Rock Bridge field in apology letter. Columbia Tribune

Pettigrew, J. (Sep 17, 2020). Local donor sends apology to CPS for explicit Facebook post. The Missourian.

Staff (Sept 16, 2020). Wayne Sells sends letter to CPS on possible renaming of Rock Bridge High School football field. ABC 17 News

Post Image: Dakow, J. (Sep 18, 2020). Welcome to BLM Field. The Missourian.

RE: Columbia Public Schools’ Extended Educational Experience Program

By Tara Warne-Griggs


On Monday, June 8, 2020, former Rock Bridge High School students presented a list of student demands to the Columbia Public Schools Board of Education. The first of eight items on the list: “Disband Extended Educational Experiences (EEE) and other gifted programs and redirect the resources to underprivileged kids.

When this list was posted to several social media pages, it was striking how many people’s first comments were about how important EEE was, or asking why this would be on the list at all? Many people jumped in to state how important EEE had been to their particular student.

There’s a whole conversation to be had about why people’s first response was to ask about EEE, rather than to chime in in support of the other demands. But this brief comment simply provides some information about EEE demographics and the criteria used to place children in the program.


The student body in Columbia is quite diverse. 40% of our students come from minoritized groups, while 60% are socially defined as white. 20% of our students are Black/African American, 9% identify as multiracial,  7% as Latinx, 5% as Asian, and 0.5% as Indigenous.

CPS Student Demographics by Race and Gender

With EEE, however, the Columbia Public School’s gifted program, the demographics look quite different.

Students socially defined as white comprise 78% of the “gifted” population in CPS while representing 60% of the total student body. Students identified as Asian (9%) or Multiracial (7%) also make up a larger portion of EEE students than one would anticipate based on the larger population. Compare this with 3% identified as Latinx, 2% Black/African American, and 0.2% Indigenous students. 

Are we really to believe only 88 out of 4,853 (2% of the population) of Black and Latinx are gifted? And believe that 12% of White students are gifted? (ref/citation)

CPS Demographics of Gifted Program

 Selection into EEE

According to the EEE pages on the CPS website, EEE is a one-day/week program for elementary students, a research/problem solving course for middle school students, and a resource room/teacher for high school students.

“To qualify for these programs, students must meet program benchmarks on the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children, Fifth Edition. This test is administered one-on-one to any student new to CPS elementary schools if the student first meets a program benchmark on the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test, Second Edition. The NNAT3 (Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test) is administered to all students new to CPS, all kindergarten students, and all second grade students during the spring of the school year. Please note that students entering CPS in middle school are not automatically screened and must submit an advocacy packet to be considered.”

Columbia Public Schools uses the highly problematic Weschler Intelligence Scales for Children (WISC V) as the mechanism for sorting children into gifted programming. In their 2016 review of the WISC V, Watkins and Canivez criticized the test’s publisher for failing to address the potential of measurement bias in the instrument. They expressed disappointment that the publishers had failed to produce data on measurement bias or reliability estimates disaggregated by race/ethnicity, gender, and parent education level.

Furthermore, the National Association for Gifted Children strongly cautions school districts not to rely on an IQ test for selecting children into gifted programs.

“Nevertheless, IQ tests should be interpreted cautiously for children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and for all children, and should never be the only basis for exclusion from gifted programs. In addition, all efforts should be made to accommodate linguistic diversity and test children in their native language. NAGC recommends that …Full Scale IQ scores not be required for admission to gifted programs.” (NAGC, 2008)

NAGC (2019)In their position statement defining giftedness assert that Students with gifts and talents:

Grissom and Redding (2016), stated

“Black students are less likely to be assigned to gifted services in both math and reading, a pattern that persists when controlling for other background factors, such as health and socioeconomic status, and characteristics of classrooms and schools. We then investigate the role of teacher discretion, leveraging research from political science suggesting that clients of government services from traditionally underrepresented groups benefit from diversity in the providers of those services, including teachers. Even after conditioning on test scores and other factors, Black students indeed are referred to gifted programs, particularly in reading, at significantly lower rates when taught by non-Black teachers, a concerning result given the relatively low incidence of assignment to own-race teachers among Black students.”


The Extended Educational Experiences (EEE) gifted program excludes Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students. The school district selects program participants using a single metric that is likely biased and unreliable for children who are not white, or middle/upper class. The district fails to account for the known disparities in gifted placement. Finally, the  district does not follow recommended practices for placing children into gifted programs. 


Grissom, Jason A. & Redding, Christopher (2016) Discretion and disproportionality: explaining the underrepresentation of high-achieving students of color in gifted programs, AERA Open, vol 2:1.

NAGC (2019) Key considerations in  identifying and supporting gifted and talented learners: A report from the 2018 NAGC definition task force.

Watkins, Marley & Canivez, Gary. (2016). Review of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children–Fifth Edition: Critique, Commentary, and Independent Analyses. In Intelligent Testing with WISC-V, A.S. Kaufman, S.E. Raiford, and D.L. Coalson (Eds.), Wiley publishers, pp. 683-702.

CPS Pandemic Survey: Fixed It!

Columbia Public School district has apparently overlooked the larger "community" as it chooses to engage - once again - only with those community members who are parents of students currently in attendance at CPS. The last we checked, everyone's taxes paid their salaries. Everyone's vote appointed the school board members. Everyone should have the opportunity to weigh in on issues - particularly in pandemic response - that affects the entire community.

Just another example of how Stiepleman and upper level Admin do not view the community as partners or shareholders in our shared interests. So, we FIXED IT! Please feel free to respond to CPS with the concerns for public safety that we hold, irrespective of whether you have children currently attending their system. This is a question for all of us to deliberate upon.

Who knows, might even reach someone who could offer up some great ideas towards a workable solution! Guess we'd never know if we didn't ask...

Please respond to the following survey:

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Michelle Baumstark <>
Date: Tue, May 26, 2020 at 11:06 AM
Subject: COVID-19 Update: We need your input
To: Columbia Public Schools Recipients <>

Dear Parents/Guardian:

Every few minutes it seems we’re hearing a new story about events canceling, schools closing, recession coming, borders shutting down, and uncertainty about the future due to Coronavirus/COVID-19.  

We want to stay connected and hear your questions and ideas on how we move forward during this challenging and uncertain time. We’re smarter and better when we harvest the collective wisdom of our community. With that in mind, I am asking you for five minutes today and another five minutes tomorrow to help us plan our continued response to Coronavirus/COVID-19.

Join us in this Thought Exchange. While we will need to follow Health Department guidelines and parameters, the collective knowledge gathered will help inform our planning efforts around COVID-19 and our return in August. 

Here’s the link:

Thank you in advance for participating in this conversation.


Peter Stiepleman
Columbia Public Schools

You are receiving this email because of your relationship with Columbia Public Schools. If you wish to stop receiving email updates sent through the Blackboard service, please unsubscribe.
Columbia Public Schools | 1818 W Worley Street, Columbia, MO 65203 | 573-214-3400

Critique: CPS Board of Education

Columbia Public Schools Board Meeting 11 May 2020, CPS Discussion/Agenda

Tonight, the Columbia School Board will most likely give a raise to a superintendent who answers to white supremacists and mediocrity in the name of progress. A superintendent who is not very honest and passive-aggressively deceptive because he can not manage any critical assessment of his so-called leadership -- especially around the issues of seclusion and restraint and recordings of IEP plan meetings. Columbia Schools’ Public Relations person and Custodian of Records are the same person -- and, to our minds, plays a dual role in misrepresenting the facts (with the support of EdCounsel) to play divide and conquer. The exact game Fred Parry et, al are playing with attorneys Eng & Woods.

CPS BOE and Superintendent Stiepleman have struggled on issues that matter to parents whose children have been marginalized.

There are some important items on CPS' agenda tonight (a lot under the consent calendar) -- but I doubt a single CPS board member has the courage to speak truth to power and hold Dr. Stiepleman accountable for a series of problematic responses in 2019. I believe the CPS board and their employee Dr. Stiepleman have struggled to be transparent on issues that matter to parents whose children have been marginalized and harmed by their institutional practices. Instead of engagement, they accused a rightfully angry public of trying to ruin their lives. Pathetic. Heads up. 

There is a draft COLUMBIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN on tonight's agenda and contracts for various kinds of training relative to cultural competence in a broad sense. My interpretation? It is a token infusion of equity with behavior management programming mixed in for a performative effect to give the appearance of "we are doing something". Simultaneously, and more importantly, we still have no data or idea of how CPS measures the effectiveness of these contracted or free training services.

RMF Says NO to Contract Extension for Columbia's Dr Stiepleman

Race Matters, Friends President Traci Wilson-Kleekamp sent a video note to Helen Wade, President, Board of Education, Columbia Public Schools before the most recent board meeting, 2020.05.11. In this video, Traci Wilson-Kleekamp summarized Race Matters, Friends position of ongoing disappointment with Dr. Stiepleman's performance, administrative process, and lack of transparency and accountability. Ms. Wade responded to the email, noting that she would share the link with the board members. 

RMF does not support a contract extension for Dr. Stiepleman

  1. The contract for Dr. Stiepleman's position renewal was posted to the 2020.05.11 agenda items for the Board of Education to deliberate. The contract was not uploaded until Friday, 2020.05.08 which violates the requirement for 48-hour business day notification to the public.
  2. As presented, the contract did not include Dr. Stiepleman's current salary or proposed pay increase.
  3. RMF has a long-standing grievance over Dr. Stiepleman's performance and character. This appears to be yet one more of many examples of Stiepleman's obfuscation of transparency, and attempts to circumvent public engagement and accountability.

RMF does not support contract renewal with SESI/Catapult Learning

  1. No contract was uploaded or made available to the public before being scheduled for the March 11 meeting. When this was challenged, CPS administration moved discussion to a May 12 Work Session at 07:30 am rather than provide details of the contract. 
  2. RMF proposed moving the discussion to the June Board meeting.
  3. Catapult Learning has proven to be a liability to our community, and in the eyes of RMF and other prominent advocacy groups, unfit to oversee the safety and develop of our most vulnerable student population.
    1. This became a matter of concern at the state level in relation to proposed House Bill 1568 with accounts laying out some rather draconian measures implemented by the contracted organization.
    2. Concerns with this organization hinge predominantly on a heavy-handed approach to management of the students, extensive use of Seclusion Rooms - which at their best are problematic. The seclusion rooms had failed to be properly permitted or built to standards for anything approaching safe - let alone the the organizations use of seclusion rooms as practical holding cells for children to spend extended hours in isolation.

RMF requests that the CPS Board of Education consider the ongoing concerns

  1. That the CPS Board establish an official Equity Advisory Committee that includes representation of community and neighborhood organizations, parents and guardians.
    1. This committee should be afforded powers to influence school policy based on input to the Board, to be reported monthly at the scheduled board meetings and published reports made available to the public.
    2. This committee should be sheltered from any interference from the school administration, of whom they will be critiquing.
  2. That the CPS Board establish an official Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC) with the same scope, function, and rights requested of the above Equity Advisory Committee.
  3. That the CPS board establish a COVID-19 Work Group to include a subcommittee on Compensatory Education for identifying and correcting trends of students with IEP/504 who have not received Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). 
    1. FAPE is a component of IDEA laws and regulations, Federal and State, that requires the provision of compensatory services for qualified children if they are regressing or failing to progress. Schools are required to provide compensatory services.

Thoughts from Traci Wilson-Kleekamp

Various members of our team have attempted to meet and collaborate with school officials since the complaint brought by Kandas Barnes was filed last year when her daughter was misidentified and arrested for being in a fight. We later learned that the School Resource Officer involved in the case did not act professionally. 

Two other young ladies expressed the bullying they experienced at Smithton and were essentially erased by the Board's apathy and deficit-orientation about Black students. We feel that CPS administration and Board are aware of these challenges and evidenced by the Black vs. All demographic reporting for each school on their public-facing site. Rice Tracy and Peggy Placier attempted to communicate their concerns with Dr. Stiepleman to no avail. 

In RMF's opinion, Carla London, Chief Equity Officer with CPS is not qualified to assess or implement changes to policy, or make an impactful difference to the blatant disparities in treatment of black and special needs children in the school system. When critiqued in a Facebook post, she brought allegations of me having stalked her children as one of her children had come across the public post. Ms London filed two restraining orders against me, utilizing school resources and legal teams - at the expense of the public. Both charges were dismissed.

We are in the midst of a pandemic. School is closed. School administration and Board members have had time to reflect on the many issues brought to their attention. Moving forward differently takes courage, but is what the public and public stewardship demands.

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."

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?