UPDATED: Kansas Board of Education Ignores President's Transgender Decree
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Members of the Kansas Board of Education have unanimously voted to ignore a federal directive that all public schools allow transgender students to use restrooms that match their gender identity, instead deferring to the regulations of school districts. What remains unclear is whether or not the 10-0 vote will endanger over $479 million in federal aid, or about 10 percent of the state's education budget. Scott Gordon, general counsel for the state's education department, said that the threat of loss of federal funding is not sweeping. The entire state would not lose federal education funding if one school is found out of compliance with the anti-discrimination law. Gordon noted that only one transgender student filed a complaint for alleged discrimination with the Office of Civil Rights in 2015. Board members cited the low rate of incidents as proof that districts already have adequate regulations in place. See #MyKPR's Stephen Koranda's story on this issue.
(earlier AP version)
Kansas Education Board to Weigh Transgender Bathroom Policy
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas State Board of Education plans to discuss and take possible action on the Obama administration's directive that public schools allow transgender students to use the restroom that matches their gender identity. The board meeting today (TUE) follows Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's announcement that the state will sue the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education, which issued the decree. Board members voted last month against issuing a public statement last month rebuking the directive, citing a need for more time to discuss the matter with attorneys and to review school districts' policies. Some districts have said their current practice already complies with the federal directive.
Kansas House Member Drafts Proposal on Transgender Students
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas House member has drafted a proposal that would prevent transgender students from using school bathrooms that do not match their birth genders. But Republican Representative John Whitmer of Wichita says he doesn't plan to push for a debate during the Legislature's special session unless Democrats seek to amend an education funding bill. Lawmakers convene June 23 to address a state Supreme Court order to make the school finance system fairer to poor school districts or risk having schools remain closed after June 30. Whitmer said his proposal would encourage schools to create gender-neutral bathrooms. Democratic Representative John Carmichael of Wichita said it would be irresponsible of legislators to delay an education funding solution with a dispute over bathrooms.
North Newton Couple Appears in Court in Abuse Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A North Newton couple accused of abusing three children they adopted have waived their preliminary hearings in Harvey County District Court. The Wichita Eagle reports that Jim and Paige Nachtigal appeared in court briefly Monday to waive their preliminary hearing in which a judge decides whether there's enough probable cause to bind a defendant over for a jury trial. The couple is scheduled for an arraignment August 1. The couple faces at least a dozen criminal charges, including three counts of child abuse alleging cruel and inhuman corporal punishment, seven counts of aggravated battery and two counts of child abuse alleging child torture. Authorities say the Nachtigals brutally assaulted two daughters and a son they adopted from a Peruvian orphanage while working as international missionaries.
Prosecutors: Kansas Roofing Company Preyed on Illegal Workers; Forced them to Pay Kickbacks
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The owners of a Kansas roofing company are accused of forcing workers who are in the U.S. illegally to pay kickbacks by threatening to turn them into immigration agents if they didn't. A 17-count federal indictment unsealed today (TUE) in Kansas City, Kansas, accuses Century Roofing owners Tommy Frank Keaton and Graziano Cornolo of profiting from kickbacks since at least 2009. Prosecutors say workers who were in the country illegally were paid in cash to complete roofing projects in the Kansas City area in Kansas and Missouri, then were forced to give some of the money back. A spokesman for Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall says no attorneys had entered an appearance for either defendant. Keaton's voice mailbox was full today (TUE) and Cornolo doesn't have a listed number.
Panels to Review Kansas School Funding, Constitutional Changes
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Two Kansas legislative committees will debate changes in education funding and school finance amendments to the state constitution in a joint meeting this week. The House and Senate Judiciary committees have released the agenda for a two-day meeting that begins Thursday. The panels are meeting ahead of a special session beginning June 23. Governor Sam Brownback called the special session to address a state Supreme Court order last month declaring that the state's education funding system remains unfair to low-income school districts. The court said schools will not be able to reopen after June 30 without further action by the Legislature to more equitably fund the school districts. The committees' agenda shows that they could recommend changes in education funding but they will also consider constitutional amendments that would curb the courts' power in school finance issues.
Budget Cuts Force Many Kansas Universities to Seek Higher Tuition Increases
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Many of Kansas' state universities are asking the system's governing board this week to approve tuition increases higher than first proposed a month ago. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the University of Kansas wants tuition increased by 5 percent, one percent higher than the school sought last month. The state's other universities propose tuition boosts ranging from 4.9 percent at Emporia State to 6 percent at Fort Hays State. Only the University of Kansas' medical center and Wichita State did not increase their rate increase requests. They remain at 5 percent. The revisions are in response to a state budget that calls for additional cuts to higher education funding. The Kansas Board of Regents is to vote on the requests Wednesday.
Crash Led to Miss Kansas' Campaign Against Texting and Driving
PRATT, Kan. (AP) — The newly crowned Miss Kansas says a personal experience inspired her platform to combat texting and driving. The Hutchinson News reports that 22-year-old Kendall Schoenekase of Overland Park was a passenger in a car in June 2014, when the driver began to text. The driver crossed the centerline and collided with another vehicle. Schoenekase suffered minor injuries and a young girl was also injured. Schoenekase, who is registered nurse, started an awareness campaign before using her position as 2016 Miss Kansas to create public service announcements about texting and driving. Schoenekase is now preparing for the Miss America pageant, where she will attempt to become the fourth Miss Kansas to win the national crown.
Report: Kansas Wheat Harvest Slower This Year
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The latest government snapshot of Kansas crops shows a slower than usual start to the state's wheat harvest. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 5 percent of the winter wheat in Kansas had now been harvested. That is slightly behind the 15 percent average. The report noted that the wheat harvest has gained momentum in the southern parts of the state. The agency also rated the condition of wheat still out in the field as 10 percent excellent and 51 percent good. About 31 percent is in fair condition, with 8 percent in poor to very poor shape. Condition updates for the state's corn, soybean and sorghum crops are listed as mostly good to excellent.
Teen Pleads Guilty in KCMO Water Park Killing
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A teenager has pleaded guilty in the killing of a middle school student at a south Kansas City water park. The Kansas City Star reports that 19-year-old Dominic McDaniel was one of three people charged in the death of 14-year-old Alexis Kane. McDaniel pleaded guilty Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court to voluntary manslaughter and armed criminal action. He had been charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. Alexis was found shot to death in January 2015 on the grounds of The Bay Waterpark. Court records say friends told police that she was killed after meeting someone she had been communicating with on Facebook. No sentencing date has been set. Two others remain charged with first-degree murder in the slaying.
Judge: Kansas Mom Mentally Fit for Trial in Stepson's Death
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has ruled that a woman accused in her 7-year-old stepson's death is mentally fit to stand trial for murder. Separately, Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman confirmed Monday that remains found on a Kansas City, Kansas, property that the family was renting belonged to the boy. Michael Jones and his wife, Heather, are charged with murder in the death of Michael Jones' son and they are both jailed on multi-million dollar bonds. Wyandotte County District Judge Michael Grosko last week found Heather Jones competent to stand trial in the killing. Police investigating a disturbance last November found remains in a livestock area on the property.
Oklahoma State-Wichita State Announce Basketball Series
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State and Wichita State have announced a home-and-home basketball series between the two schools. The games announced Monday include OSU playing at Wichita State on December 17 and Wichita State coming to Stillwater on December 9, 2017. OSU and WSU have played 37 times in the past with the Cowboys holding an overall series lead of 29-8. The two haven't played since 2002 when OSU defeated the Shockers 68-58 in Wichita.
Merrifield, Volquez Lead Royals to 2-1 Win over Indians
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Whit Merrifield hit his first career homer, Edinson Volquez pitched seven innings of two-hit ball and the Kansas City Royals beat Cleveland 2-1 on Monday night. Alcides Esocbar also drove in a run for the Royals, who have won three in a row after an eight-game losing streak. They also won their seventh consecutive game at Kauffman Stadium. Volquez (6-6) allowed only a double to Cleveland's Jason Kipnis and a single to Lonnie Chisenhall but ultimately held the Indians to only one run.