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Sat Nov 23, 2013, 02:36 AM

Education commissionerís emails create flap in Missouri

Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro has raised the ire of state teachers unions and some lawmakers after emails show she helped craft language in an anti-teacher-tenure ballot initiative financed by Rex Sinquefield.

The emails from a year ago ó obtained through a Sunshine Law request by the Missouri National Education Association and first reported by The Associated Press ó further stir what has been a stormy political season for Nicastro.

The commissioner is already being pulled in several directions over her recommendations to keep Kansas City Public Schools unaccredited and bring in the charter-school-supporting consulting agency CEE-Trust to develop a plan for the future of the district.

The emails show Nicastro was trading information with Kate Casas, the state policy director for the Childrenís Education Council of Missouri, which was developing the ballot initiative petition. It aims to give voters the chance to take away teacher tenure and require schools to use student performance data in determining teacher pay and promotions.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education frequently will help lawmakers, lobbyists or other state departments interpret education policies in bills or other measures, but the teacher groups contend Nicastro overstepped her bounds and was not publicly transparent in helping Casas.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/11/22/4643022/education-commissioners-emails.html#storylink=cpy

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