KSD School Board President Darnel Frost and board member Julie Backer announce joint statement Feb. 10


Ally Ortmann

Last night’s board meeting took a different path as Frost amended the previously distributed meeting agenda, announcing that Backer and the board had agreed on a joint statement of resolution instead Feb. 10.

At the KSD Board of Education meeting Feb. 10, an agenda item set to present a resolution to censure board member Julie Backer was not moved forward. KSD School Board President Darnel Frost amended the previously distributed meeting agenda, announcing that Backer and the board had agreed on a joint statement of resolution instead Feb. 10.

Backer came under fire at an impromptu special board meeting Feb.1. At the meeting, Frost called for Backer to recuse herself from the search for a new district superintendent, claiming she acted in a disrespectful manner and violated school board policies during her tenure. 

In a joint statement Frost read, “After numerous attempts to resolve policy violation and incidents that compromise the superintendent search, on February 1 at a special board meeting, we took a difficult but important step to begin the process to censure a current board member. However, this action has led to a joint statement. This joint statement reads such as this, ‘Julie Backer, member of the Kirkwood School District Board of Education, President Darnel Frost, the president of the board of education, we want to announce that a resolution of disputes and issues has been reached. Based on the spirit and commitment to this statement, we have agreed on a joint path. I will not ask for a vote on a motion for resolution to censure tonight. Julie acknowledges that she made some statements, did serve actions that were inconsistent with Kirkwood School District Board policies. Julie Backer agrees that some of her efforts should be more directed towards unified Board action, as opposed to personal advocacy. Julie Backer apologizes to the board and administrators, staff and district stakeholders. In order to move forward and focus on the welfare of the children, the parties agree and pledge to recommit and enforce the Kirkwood School District Board Policies and Board Norms.”

However, positive feedback toward the resolution did not last for long. During the public comment session of the board meeting, there was unrest in the crowd. Board policy currently allows 30 minutes of public comments. At the end of the 30 minute public comment session three individuals who requested to speak in favor of Julie Backer were unable to do so. This enticed a shout of, “This is a democracy,” from the crowd as individuals begin standing in favor of extending public comment time. After a few minutes and Backer asking for an extension of time, Frost allowed the final three commenters to speak.

“If our citizens come and they want to speak at our meeting, then we should allow them to speak,” Angie Bernardi, board member, said in a private interview. “I applaud them. They made it known they wanted to speak, and they got to speak. We are here to serve the public, we represent the public as we are elected by them so we should always listen to their voices.”

While many believe the statement of resolution was the correct step in moving forward, there is still skepticism amongst members of the Kirkwood community on how this will affect the search for a new superintendent and future board conflict. 

“I’m left with even more questions,” Ann Frey, Kirkwood resident, said. “I don’t know how [the board] is going to move forward from this. I don’t know what was done at a private level, I do know that airing it in public was not the move to have made. I would have second thoughts if I was thinking about coming to Kirkwood School District [as a superintendent candidate]. I’m disheartened.” 

“Our children are watching us,” Sharon Taysi, Nipher Middle School science teacher, said close to tears before the board, addressing the recent conflict concerning the potential censuring of board member Julie Backer. 

Taysi said the lack of unity will not only negatively affect the search for a new superintendent, but every move and decision the district makes moving forward.

“I think [the resolution] was needed, I think it was definitely the best move for them. I was surprised by that, I was very happy,” Taysi said. “I still think we have a long road to haul. I think anything that shows disunity in a district, not only negatively impacts the superintendent search, but everything else the school district does.”

Frost declined to interview, but in a statement to The Kirkwood Call he said, “Our number one priority as members of the Kirkwood School Board of Education is to advocate for our students, teachers, staff, and families. And, as President of the Board, I feel an even deeper personal commitment to this process and take that responsibility to heart. After numerous attempts and private meetings with Board Member Backer to address policy violations and incidents that compromised the superintendent search, I took a difficult but important step at the February 1 special Board meeting to begin a process to censure a current Board member. This meeting included a discussion with the Board, subsequently placing a Resolution of Censure on the February 10 Board Agenda with all related documentation. I was prepared to go through with the resolution because of the serious nature of the offenses, but the admissions, no denials, and apology, and a commitment to following and enforcing the Board norms, provided a path to bring resolution to the Board. I thought it was best for our school district to accept the acknowledgment and apology to bring unity to our school district in order to focus on the superintendent search.”

Backer has not yet commented.

This article will be updated continuously.