(Jefferson City, MO) Today education leaders from the American Federation of Teachers, Missouri National Education Association and the Missouri State Teachers Association issued the following joint statement regarding press reports of Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro’s covert conversations with Rex Sinquefield lobbyist Kate Casas.
“As educators we are disturbed by Commissioner Nicastro’s covert communication with a registered lobbyist, her potential disregard of open meetings law, and the circumvention of input from anyone involved in the day-to-day operations of public schools.
Published reports indicate Commissioner Nicastro actively assisted a special interest lobbyist in crafting language for an amendment to the Missouri Constitution and ordering DESE staff not to post items to the State Board of Education’s public agenda. Nicastro assured special interest groups the fiscal note outlining the financial impact would be favorable.
The professional staff at DESE developed language that disclosed the potential significant costs to local districts. However, Nicastro chose to personally override her financial experts at the expense of taxpayers.
Government officials have a duty to act in an open and transparent manner for the benefit of the citizens of the state of Missouri – Commissioner Nicastro’s actions fall short of that duty.”More soon.