Rockwood Board of Education announces interim Superintendent, addresses curriculum controversy

During+the+May+6%2C+2021+Rockwood+Board+of+Education+meeting%2C+Rockwood+community+members+gathered+outside+the+Administrative+Annex+building%2C+where+the+meeting+was+being+held%2C+to+demonstrate+their+opinions+regarding+the+current+controversies+over+diverse+curriculums.+Over+30+patrons+spoke+during+the+meeting+for+three-minute+slots+each.

Jack Daws

During the May 6, 2021 Rockwood Board of Education meeting, Rockwood community members gathered outside the Administrative Annex building, where the meeting was being held, to demonstrate their opinions regarding the current controversies over diverse curriculums. Over 30 patrons spoke during the meeting for three-minute slots each.

Makayla Archambeault, Editor-in-Chief

The Area Supervisor of the St. Louis Region at Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Tim Ricker was announced as the new interim Superintendent of the Rockwood School District during the May 6 Board of Education meeting.

Previously, Ricker served as superintendent of the Mehlville School District from June 2000 to July 2005. After that, he served as superintendent of the Lemont-Bromberek School District in Chicago from June 2006 to December 2011. In 2006, he left his position to begin drawing on his benefits from the Missouri Public Schools Retirement System and now works at DESE. He has 45 years of experience in education.

Ricker has a doctorate from Southern Illinois University in addition to an education specialist degree from Central Missouri State University, a master’s degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and bachelor’s degree from Northeast Missouri State University.

In addition to this announcement, the meeting was also a platform used by members of the Rockwood community to voice their concern regarding the current controversy over inclusive curriculum.

Before the start of the meeting, the board called for civility from the participating patrons. Over 30 patrons spoke during the meeting for three-minute slots each. The meeting lasted about three hours.

Patron comments were divided between those who supported Rockwood’s current curriculum and those who wish to have a curriculum focused more on traditional core subjects and oppose what they believe are efforts to include what is referred to as Critical Race Theory lessons.

Following the patron comments, President Jaime Bayes read a statement from the board.

“We want to be very clear: the Rockwood School District is not teaching Critical Race Theory. We are committed to providing an equitable, welcoming and safe learning environment for all students, as outlined in The Way Forward. We value and embrace diversity and want our students to consider various perspectives. Engaging in respectful conversations about how people think and view things differently is what helps develop students as critical thinkers and problem-solvers. When we developed The Way Forward, you told us that you wanted students to think globally, learn to be problem-solvers, collaborate with others and engage thoughtfully and respectfully. As adults, we should be modeling those behaviors for our students,” it said.

In addition to addressing the curriculum controversy that has gained national attention, the board also spoke to the harassment of administrators and staff from community members in reaction to the current situation.

“This year our District and our staff have been the subject of sometimes hateful, and certainly hurtful, social media posts, emails and voicemails. This is not acceptable. Harassment in any form is not acceptable. Racism in any form is not acceptable. It is an embarrassment, and it does not reflect who we are as a district,” the statement read. “We call on all stakeholders – parents, community members, staff and students – to stop spreading hate and shame. Help us build our Beloved Community where everyone belongs and feels safe. We implore you to think about what you say, what you post, what you write in an email. Listen to understand and consider the perspectives of others.”

*Updates will be made to this story as more information becomes available