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BIG SCHOOL CASE IN THE CAPITOL; GORDON & GLORIA

Charter schools in St. Louis and Kansas City are closely watching a case unfolding in Cole County Circuit Court in our seat of Missouri government. Circuit Judge Dan Green is considering claims by KC charter Gordon Parks Elementary that the State Board of Education didn’t follow the law in denying its charter renewal application. It has been reported that the State Board and its bureaucracy, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, put a target on Gordon Parks to test recent state law changes. They picked a school that isn’t going quietly. Among heavy hitters who have come out publicly for the school are KC Democratic kingmaker and superdonor Jim Nutter. The school focuses on the children most at risk in grades K-5 grades from KC’s urban core. Some are homeless. Most qualify for free lunches and many have special education needs. Inside the courtroom, Gordon Parks’ case is being advanced by Jefferson City’s most influential attorney,Chuck Hatfield of the Stinson Morrison Hecker firm. Hatfield handled Gordon Parks testimony in the morning, then stepped to a nearby courtroom to argue for Morgan Keegan in the Mamtek sweetener plant debacle, then he dashed back to Judge Green’s court. The Gordon Parks hearing resumes Friday morning. The school is named for the esteemed first African-American staff photographer for Life magazine, who also directed the groundbreaking blaxploitation film “Shaft.” Social angle: Gordon Parks, who died in 2006, was a companion for decades with wealthy socialite Gloria Vanderbilt. Gloria’s son, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, has warm memories of Parks and his very cool sports car.

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