USD 453 Leavenworth won’t remove false claims about academic progress

June 19, 2023

Glowing, but incorrect posts about academic progress at USD 453 Leavenworth have appeared on the school’s Facebook page, but apparently no one in leadership in the district authorized them, nor is taking responsibility for their inaccurate picture of recent student assessment scores.

In a series titled “The ABC’s of USD 453”, the posts begin with “A-Academics”:

“Leavenworth’s school district boasts hugely successful and impressive academic programs wherever you find us. From Pre-K to Senior year, you’ll find nothing but excellence in what the students are receiving in the classroom.”

Next is “B-Best”:

“USD 453 is the first school district in Kansas and the first in everything we do We ensure we are the best in whatever we do, from athletics to academics, from clubs to organizations, to service all the way to maintenance.”

While Leavenworth is the first school district in Kansas, the claims about academics do not measure up to 2022 state assessment results.  In math, 57% of Leavenworth students are below grade level while the state average is 34%.  Only 13% of Leavenworth students are proficient in math, whereas 29% are proficient statewide.

We asked Superintendent Dr. Mike Roth, who has announced his retirement from the district effective January 1, 2024, to justify the posts’ claims of academic excellence in USD 453 in light of assessment results showing the contrary. He did not respond.

School Board member Vanessa Reid said the initiative was not approved by the board, and added it may not have originated with the superintendent:

“When I saw real misinformation being put out as true by the district, I called the district office and asked what was going on with these posts that weren’t true. In the fashion of an excuse, I was told they were being done by recently graduated and current students. I expressed my concerns that these individuals should be informed of the truth by the district. It was expressed by the district that these posts may be relative to their individual experience or the experience of others. I stated that’s not how these posts read.

“It’s very important that what the district puts out is true and accurate information and that anyone working for the district in any capacity, especially public relations, is focused on the truth, not publishing a false narrative. I don’t hold these interns responsible for this content, but instead the district leadership that is responsible.”

Transparency and accountability have been recent issues in USD 453.