From Bob White, Board president: Inviting you to public information session with our incoming superintendent on Jan. 18

NOTE: There has been a location change for this event. In response to requests from staff and community members, the Board of Education’s question-and-answer session with Dr. Dennis L. Carpenter, new R-7 superintendent, is being moved from the Stansberry Leadership Center to Lee’s Summit West High School, 2600 SW Ward Road. Meeting time remains the same — 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18. The meeting is also being videotaped and will be shared with the community later this week via the district’s YouTube channel.  

The following communication went to all Lee’s Summit R-7 staff members on Jan. 16 and is being shared with the community.

Dear Staff,

In the past 48 hours the LSR7 Board of Education has been inundated with phone calls, texts and emails.  We greatly appreciate the input from staff and community members in order for us to do our job.  Based on information you have shared with us, we have considered your concerns. I apologize up front for the length of this communique, but matters of this importance cannot be addressed in a simple and abbreviated fashion.  

Here are the FACTS as we know them:

  1. Dr. Carpenter is aware that a very high percentage of our staff reside in our district and send their children to our schools.  Therefore our staff is deeply invested in our schools. The investment of our staff is evident in all that our teachers do and the exemplary services that they deliver.  This was one of the reasons Dr. Carpenter cited as motivation for his application.
  2. Thursday night’s report on Channel 41 regarding Dr. Carpenter was false, and unfairly smeared Dr. Carpenter. Our attorney has investigated the lawsuits mentioned in that report, and has found that contrary to the Channel 41 report, Dr. Carpenter was not named as a defendant in either of those suits. Therefore, he does not, as Channel 41 reported, “face age discrimination lawsuits.” This is consistent with the due diligence that the Board conducted before offering the Superintendent position to Dr. Carpenter.
  3. The suit that was the primary focus of the Channel 41 report arose after the Hickman Mills board of education adjusted its teacher salary schedule to provide higher pay for teachers with advanced degrees, because Hickman Mills was losing those teachers to school districts (like Lee’s Summit) that placed a higher value on teachers with graduate degrees. That process was the subject of extensive reporting by the Kansas City Star in February and March 2015. Those reports reflect that there was extensive collaboration between the teachers and administration of Hickman Mills on revisions to the salary schedule, and that the Hickman Mills board directed Dr. Carpenter to return with “even more aggressive proposals” after he presented a proposal that had been agreed upon by him and a committee that included 10 teachers. In none of the news reports on that process did anyone suggest that the Hickman Mills board, let alone Dr. Carpenter, was discriminating against teachers based on their age. So it is grossly unfair for the media, or any member of our community, to suggest that Dr. Carpenter engaged in that sort of conduct. Rather, the Hickman Mills board was faced with making a difficult choice in order to retain what it believed to be its most-qualified teachers. Deciding how much to value experience vs. education is fundamentally a policy choice that every board of education must make when setting salaries.
  4. The other age discrimination suit mentioned in the Channel 41 report was brought by someone who was not hired for an assistant principal job. The court file for that case reflects that principals were responsible for interviewing candidates and recommending the assistant principals with whom they wished to work. The court file also shows that in this case, the principal formed a committee of staff within her school to interview assistant principal candidates, and she allegedly told one of other people on the committee that the plaintiff should be given lower marks because of his age. There is also a claim in the suit that the principal destroyed notes taken by other members of the hiring committee who supported hiring the plaintiff. Dr. Carpenter had no knowledge of these problems until after the plaintiff brought his claim, and there is no allegation in the suit that Dr. Carpenter himself engaged in or approved of any form of discrimination. So again, Channel 41’s report was false, and unfairly disparaged Dr. Carpenter.
  5. In reference to the incidents surrounding Dr. Carpenter’s family in Georgia, records indicate that Dr. Carpenter and his family were the victims of social media harassment.  Sadly, this type of harassment is far too common.

Below, I will address other rumors or questions concerns that have been brought to our attention:

  • A rumor has been spread that contracts will not be issued until reviewed by the superintendent. This is FALSE.  Contracts will be released on time as required by law.
  • Will our salary schedule be changed like it was in Hickman Mills?  NO.  Salary schedule is a function of Team Lee’s Summit which is a process that the board continues to support.
  • Are all the principals going to get fired like the ones in Hickman Mills?  NO.  There is a complete process involved in the hiring and termination of any staff member which the board makes sure is followed. Also, the situation in Lee’s Summit is far different than the situation that was facing Hickman Mills when Dr. Carpenter was hired there. Hickman Mills was at risk of losing its accreditation, and its board had to take drastic measures to start turning that district around.
  • Will Dr. Carpenter be able to fire our senior administrators?  NO.  The Superintendent’s contract requires board approval for any changes in senior staff.
  • Will Parents as Teachers be cut like it was in Hickman Mills?  NO.  Neither the board nor Dr. Carpenter support reductions in services to our early learners.
  • Who were the other finalists for the Superintendent position?  As professionals you understand the reasons why we are unable to share candidate names with you. They all still have jobs in other school districts, and we promised them confidentiality. We must respect and honor that promise.
  • Our search process was communicated openly and publicly from the beginning.  Updates were given as they occurred. This process included an application process, initial interviews with our consultants, nine hours of interviews with the board, 5 hours of deliberations to narrow our field, several days of initial reference checking, and 4 hours of final interviews.  In addition to this process, the district asked 4 of our candidates to complete an exhaustive two and a half hour interview conducted by a Gallup Executive Services professional interviewer.   
  • Will Dr. Carpenter be given “free rein” to do as he pleases?  NO.  The board will continue to monitor the progress of the superintendent in the future just as it has regardless of who occupies that chair.

Lee’s Summit is proud to claim that it is a community of character.  High on the list of traits to which we hold ourselves to is respect.  As a board, we are aware that respect is earned and we continue to work towards that goal. 

Another character trait we ask for staff and community to practice is patience. Working together to be informed and educated on matters that affect all of us will be more powerful and beneficial to all–students, parents, staff and board members.

The Board fully supports Dr. Carpenter; he embodies all of the traits that are important to our community, and we are confident that you will be as excited and impressed by him as were all of us on the Board.

At Dr. Carpenter’s request, you are invited to a public question and answer session on Wednesday, January 18 at 5:15 p.m. at Lee’s Summit West High School (PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF LOCATION).  Dr. Carpenter and board members will be available to address your questions and shed light on the inaccuracies and misinformation that have impacted our district. It is time to set the record straight.

PLEASE share this message with family, friends and neighbors.  Our staff and students remain our top priority.  They deserve the support of the entire community, as well.


Bob White


LSR7 Board of Education

Dr. David Sharp of LSWHS honored by UMKC School of Education

Dr. David Sharp, principal of Lee’s Summit West High School, was recently selected to receive the 2017 Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Education. Recognized alumni are selected through a highly competitive process by an independent selection committee.

Dr. Sharp will be recognized at an April 20 luncheon. He was nominated by Dr. Paul Rutherford, a teacher at Summit Technology Academy, and endorsed by a number of Lee’s Summit R-7 staff and community members.

A Lee’s Summit resident, Dr. Sharp has served as principal of LSWHS since 2011. He previously worked as director of Summit Technology Academy, as an assistant principal at LSWHS, as an associate principal/athletic director/summer school director at Fort Osage High School and as an assistant principal at William Chrisman High School. He has a total of 18 years in school administration as well as five years as a high-school and junior-high teacher.

Dr. Sharp is recognized as a dynamic visionary leader with a record of collaborating with the school community, increasing student achievement and maintaining educational excellence.

Before beginning his successful career in education, Dr. Sharp served for two years in the U.S. Army. His service included serving a member of the NATO Third Armored Division during the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Dr. Sharp earned his bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Central Missouri, his master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and his specialist degree in educational administration from UMKC. He earned a doctorate in education leadership from Baker University.

He currently serves as president elect of the Greater Kansas City Principals Association.

PLMS selects January High 5 Award Winners

The Modern Language Department at Pleasant Lea Middle School selected the school’s High 5 winners for January. Winners are (from left) Noah Gray, Most Improved Seventh-grader; Isabelle Murphy, Outstanding Seventh-grader; Cassie Forgione, Most Improved Eighth-grader; and Vy Nguyen, Outstanding Eighth-grader. Dr. Janette Miller (center), PLMS principal, presented the students with their awards.

The school’s Partners in Education, Lee’s Summit Medical Center and Mazuma Credit Union, sponsor the award. The High 5 Award was designed to promote academic excellence among students of PLMS. Lee’s Summit Medical Center presents each student with a Paradise Park gift card, and Mazuma Credit Union presents the students with a gift card for Sonic.

Summit Pointe Elementary invites community to 10th anniversary celebration

Current and former staff, students and families are invited to April 3 event

Summit Pointe Elementary will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a special event scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m. April 3. The celebration is combined with the school’s Fine Arts Night featuring choir performances, art displays and activities for children. Refreshments will also be served.

The event is open to the community. Current and former staff members, students and families are especially invited to attend. Summit Pointe is located at 13100 E. 147th St., Kansas City. The school opened in fall 2007. To watch the school’s 10th anniversary music video, visit

Dr. Dennis L. Carpenter named new Lee’s Summit R-7 superintendent

New superintendent’s experiences include improving student achievement and building community

Dr. Dennis L. Carpenter, currently Hickman Mills School District superintendent, will serve as the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District’s 2017-18 superintendent, according to a Jan. 9 announcement by the Board of Education. Board members and Dr. Carpenter are finalizing the new superintendent’s contract and expect to approve it by the Jan. 19 Board of Education meeting.

“We are fortunate to have a leader of Dr. Carpenter’s caliber, experience and integrity joining our school district,” said Bob White, Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education president. “He has a solid record in improving student achievement as well as extensive experience in strategic planning and facilities and budget management.”

Dr. Carpenter has served as superintendent of the Hickman Mills School District since 2013 and previously served as deputy superintendent of operations and the associate superintendent for human resources for Newton County Schools in Covington, Ga. An award-winning district, Newton County Schools includes approximately 20,000 students in a growing community southeast of Atlanta. In addition, he has worked as an assistant superintendent for support services in Baxley, Ga.; and as an elementary school principal and middle school assistant principal, both in Georgia school districts. He has nearly 21 years of experience in public education.

“We believe we have found the perfect fit for Lee’s Summit R-7,” Mr. White said. “Our Board of Education was especially impressed with Dr. Carpenter’s extensive experience in instructional leadership, student success, fiscal management, operations and school renovation/construction.”

Under Dr. Carpenter’s leadership, Hickman Mills School District has made significant improvements in areas such as student attendance, graduation rates and ACT composite average scores. The district’s annual performance report increased by 18.9 percent in 2014, the largest increase of any K-12 urban or suburban school district in Missouri during that year.

Additional accomplishments in Hickman Mills under his tenure have included implementation of full-day pre-kindergarten for all district 4-year-olds, school renovation projects, a successful community-wide strategic planning effort, successful passage of a 19 million dollar bond issuance, and a substantial increase in the district foundation’s fundraising efforts.

“I am both humbled and honored to be selected by the Lee’s Summit Board of Education to serve as superintendent of a district with such a rich history of academic and extracurricular excellence,” Dr. Carpenter said. “I trust that my commitment to student-centered, inclusive leadership will assist in furthering the district’s commitment to an equitable educational experience for all students.”

Dr. Carpenter will begin his new job in Lee’s Summit R-7 on July 1. Dr. Dave Benson, who is serving as interim superintendent from Sept. 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017, will be working with Dr. Carpenter to ensure a successful transition.

The Board of Education began its search for a permanent superintendent in summer 2016 and has worked with BWP and Associates. The search process emphasized community involvement with more than 750 staff members and citizens participating in focus groups and an online survey. During the survey and focus groups, participants were asked to help identify critical attributes for the district’s next superintendent.

“We have been grateful for the involvement and support of our community during this search process,” Mr. White added, “and believe this feedback and support helped us select an outstanding leader for our schools.”

Darrell Curls, president of the Hickman Mills Board of Education, shared his Board members’ thoughts regarding the announcement. “As a Board we want to congratulate Dr. Carpenter on his plans to take the next step in his career. We are grateful to Dr. Carpenter for his four years of service to our district and its children. We have made significant progress under his leadership. Lee’s Summit is the recipient of a great leader who cares about all children.”  

Dr. Carpenter earned his bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Georgia Southern University, his master’s degree in educational leadership from Augusta State University, an education specialist degree and a doctorate degree in educational leadership and educational administration, both from Georgia Southern University. Georgia Southern University is a land grant college located in Statesboro, Ga., and part of the University System of Georgia. The university is classified as a doctoral and research university by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and has been recognized as a top undergraduate and graduate university by both U.S. News and World Report and Forbes magazine. Augusta State University, located in Augusta, Ga., is also part of the University System of Georgia. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

He has received the South Kansas City Alliance Innovative Educational Program Award, received the Friend of the Council for Exceptional Children Award, was named Phi Beta Sigma Educator of the Year in Savannah, Ga., and was named an Emerging Leader by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

In addition, Dr. Carpenter has been a presenter at numerous state and national educational conferences on topics such as STEM education, student achievement, racial equity, professional development and parent/community involvement. Dr. Carpenter is married to Dr. LaQuanda Carpenter, and they have two children, Landen Drake and Layla Dee.

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District is recognized as one of the top educational systems in this region. The district has grown steadily throughout its history with current enrollment at 17,927 students. The district employs 2,652 staff members. The 117-square-mile district includes the cities of Lee’s Summit, Greenwood, Lake Lotawana and Lake Winnebago as well as unincorporated areas of Jackson County. The district’s mission is “We prepare each student for success in life.”

Hazel Grove Elementary kindergarten class has special guest thanks to volunteers

Kindergarten students at Hazel Grove Elementary School enjoyed a special visitor just before winter break thanks to two volunteer guests. The students created Google slide presentations during December that featured a compliment for Santa Claus, tying to the students’ recent lessons about kindness; a behavior that the students were seeking to improve; and three items each child would like to receive for Christmas.

The students were thrilled when Santa Claus and his favorite elf visited the class to listen to their presentations. Santa was portrayed by Cole Dunham, son of Hazel Grove teacher Susan Dunham. Cole’s best friend, Garrett Bell, volunteered to serve as the elf for the special visit.

In the photos, Santa is pictured with his favorite elf and with student, David Carnes-Denson.

LS R-7 to offer new Hospitality Tourism Management Program for high-school students

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District will soon offer a new program for students interested in a growing sector of the economy. The Hospitality Tourism Management Program (HTMP 1 and 2) encourages high-school juniors and seniors to train for a career in a growing field both in the United States and internationally. Courses will be available in fall 2017 in the new Summit Technology Academy/Missouri Innovation Campus building.

Students in the two-course program will learn the employability skills and job-specific technical skills for more than 200 industry careers in the hospitality and guest services pathway. The courses will provide learning opportunities for students to hone management skills needed in the industry. Both courses incorporate work-based learning experiences through class work, case studies and internship opportunities.

Students who pass the final exam for each year and meet the workplace requirement hours are eligible for a professional certification, the Certified Hospitality and Tourism Management Professional (CHTMP) from the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute. Students may also be eligible for six hours of college credit through Missouri State University.

This course provides a way for students to work and gain experience while they attend college, and the certification allows students to enter the workforce with industry-recognized skills and credentials.

Examples of jobs in this field are front office/desk jobs, guest services, tourism, event planning, sales and marketing, food and beverage, hospitality accounting, human resources, maintenance and engineering, safety and security, and property manager.

With the hospitality industry projected to rise by 18 percent for most areas and 27 percent for lodging managers, there is no better time to take the Hospitality Tourism Management Program at Summit Technology Academy and be prepared for a career waiting for you, said Summit Tech / Missouri Innovation Campus officials.

To learn more about the program, attend an upcoming open house on either Jan. 12 or Feb. 1 or visit

Guidance counselor praised for helping children and family during difficult year

Elementary counselor called ‘our angel at Greenwood’ by family

From the first time my children and I met Mrs. Mindi Jones she had a very pleasant, compassionate, nice, warm spirit and was very kind to us. We had just moved to Greenwood, and it was a big change for us but Mrs. Mindi made it all worth it. My children always came home talking about how nice she was and still is to them. The most important thing was that she knew their names. This year has been rough for my family and I, and Mrs. Mindi has gone above and beyond her duties as a counselor. She has helped my children with school issues and my family with personal changes in our home. I’m so grateful to God that she was our angel at Greenwood for the two years we were there. I wish we could take her on our new journey we had to start which meant that we had to depart from Mrs. Mindi — but she will always be with us in spirit because of the love she has shown my children and me. I thank you. Mrs. Mindi is the No. 1 counselor of a lifetime.

From: London, Jaudae, Erashae, Elaysha and Aisha. We thank you and from the bottom of our hearts love you.

Submitted by Aisha Thompson

The Story Project features personal stories about our students and their accomplishments in school. If you would like to submit a story about your child, visit


Lee’s Summit R-7 ranked among top 10 by national organization

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District was recently ranked in the top 10 among “Best School Districts in Missouri” by Niche. Only two Kansas City metropolitan-area districts were ranked in the state’s top 10.

According to Niche officials, the rankings are based on statistics such as state test scores, college readiness, graduation rates, SAT/ACT scores and teacher quality as well as ratings from students and parents. Niche helps families find places to live, work and attend school based on statistics and online ratings.

Lee’s Summit R-7 high schools second-semester theatre schedules

All three Lee’s Summit R-7 high schools are presenting a variety of entertaining and top-quality productions during second semester.  Second-semester theatre schedules follow including contact information and websites for each school.

Lee’s Summit High School will present Thornton Wilder’s American classic “Our Town,” Feb. 24-25 and March 3-5. “Our Town” is a metatheatrical play that tells the story of the fictional American small town of Grover’s Corners between 1901 and 1913 through the everyday lives of its citizens. Act one focuses on “Daily Life,” act two on “Love and Marriage” and act three on “Death and Dying.”

Next in the line-up is the LSHS Student-Directed One-Acts which take place March 31 and April 1. These shows are selected by our upperclass students who then direct the underclassman in fun and exciting short shows.

To close out the Lee’s Summit High School season on April 21 and 22, the Repertory Theatre production will present the moving play, “A Piece Of My Heart. This is a powerful, true drama of six women who went to Vietnam: five nurses and a country western singer booked by an unscrupulous agent to entertain the troops. The play portrays each young woman before, during, and after her tour in the war-torn nation and ends as each leaves a personal token at the memorial wall in Washington.

Tickets for all LSHS shows are available at on the box office web page or contact (816) 986-2055 or for more information or group reservations.

Lee’s Summit North High School begins the spring with its second annual “Kidz in the Hall” variety show from the Repertory and International Baccalaureate Theatre students. The shows feature scenes, songs, skits and dessert. This fun-filled evening will be 7 p.m. Feb. 23. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at the door.

Lee’s Summit North High School will present the inspirational play “Up the Down Staircase”  at 7 p.m. April 7 and 8 and at 2 p.m. April 9. Walking into her classroom for the first time, Sylvia begins to fear she doesn’t even understand the language of the school. Another teacher translates: “Keep on file in numerical order” means throw in wastebasket. “Let it be a challenge” means you’re stuck with it. “Interpersonal relationships” means a fight between students. And “it has come to my attention” means you’re in trouble. Soon Sylvia finds herself the most involved person in the school—involved in dealing with colleagues, secretaries, nurses, librarians, administrators, but, most of all, involved in the unexpected, and sometimes heartbreaking problems of her students. (Rated – PG)

For tickets and information about any of the LSNHS shows, visit

or call (816) 986-3031.

Lee’s Summit West High School is presenting two plays in February. The first is the hilarious comedy, “Leading Ladies.” What happens when two con men decide to pass themselves off as an elderly woman’s long-lost nephews only to discover that she is searching for nieces? They are two great actors but can they pass themselves off as WOMEN? “Leading Ladies” runs Feb. 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. The second production is the Arthur Miller classic, “The Crucible,” produced in conjunction with the Lee’s Summit West English Language Arts Department. Journey to Salem, Mass., at the time of the Salem Witch Trials. Several young girls are accused of doing witchcraft in the woods, but is that the truth or is there something else going on that the community has yet to discover? “The Crucible” runs Feb. 24 and 25 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 26 at 2 p.m.

In addition, LSWHS will present a revue, “Blame It on the Movies,” on Feb. 17 and 18, a series of student-directed one-act plays April 7 and 8  and a hilarious murder mystery dinner theatre, “Murder in the Knife Room,” on April 21 and 22.  Information about all LSWHS productions is available at Tickets for all plays will be $6 in advance and $7 at the door.

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