Ten candidates are running in the general election for Leavenworth Unified School District 453 school board in Leavenworth County, Kansas, on Nov. 7, 2023. Four of seven school board seats are up for election, and voters can choose up to four candidates.
The district had approximately 3,695 students during the 2021-2022 school year.
Two slates have fielded four candidates each. In addition, two candidates do not belong to either slate.
Incumbent John Goodman, Deborah Brown, Jason Claire, and Karen G. Overbey are running as a slate of candidates. Their campaign priorities include maintaining a flat property tax, academic achievement, parental rights, fiscal transparency, and politically neutral classrooms. State Rep. Pat Proctor (R) and incumbent school board member Vanessa Reid said they would vote for each member of the slate.
Incumbent Judi Price, incumbent Dannielle Wells, George A. Johnson, and Jessica Wilson are running as a slate of candidates. Their campaign priorities include student success and well-being, promoting university and trade school pathways, parent-school board partnerships, academic achievement, and student-centered decision making. Game on for Kansas Schools, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for high-quality public education, endorsed the slate.
Douglas A. Darling and Ronald S. Grossman do not belong to either slate. Darling said he wants to ensure the district received funding that would help staff and students achieve success. Grossman said his campaign priorities include voting socialists off the school board, ensuring parental rights, reducing truancy rates, ending driver’s education, installing cameras in schools, and decertifying the teachers’ union.
The election follows an effort to recall Vanessa Reid. In early 2023, Rep. Proctor visited a library in the school district and took photos of students’ artwork from an assignment on who was welcome in the library. One of those photos, which featured a rainbow flag, was shared in Proctor’s February newsletter. “It was clear that the school library was doing more indoctrinating than educating,” Proctor wrote. “I am proud to stand with Conservative School Board Member Vanessa Reid in her fight to protect our kids’ from the radical woke agenda that threatens Leavenworth Schools.”
Courtney Ricard, the parent of the student whose artwork appeared in Proctor’s newsletter, initiated the recall, saying, “My child’s artwork was used without consent. … I think [Reid] betrayed the students of Leavenworth by allowing this to happen.” Reid said, “As a lifetime resident of this wonderful city, I love all of our students. I will not be distracted by deliberate attempts by a few who have taken it upon themselves to launch a campaign of misrepresentation and character assassination over a difference of perspective on topics that are under debate nationwide.”
The recall effort did not make the ballot. In Kansas, recall supporters have 90 days to collect signatures equal to 40% of votes cast for the office in the last election. Recall supporters did not file any signatures by the July 24, 2023, deadline.
To run for school board in Leavenworth Unified School District 453, candidates must be registered to vote in the district. Once elected, school board members serve four-year staggered terms.