The Office of the Superintendent
The superintendent is the top executive ("CEO") in Kansas City Public Schools. The superintendent implements the school board’s vision by making day-to-day decisions about educational programs, spending, staff, and facilities. The superintendent hires, supervises, and manages the central staff and principals. The position also must work with school leaders -- principals -- to serve the needs of students and meet the district goals.
The superintendent must also respond to the demands of all the other constituencies and interest groups in the district: teachers, students, parents, staff, advocates, and the community at large. She or he must consider how to use the financial and human resources of the district in order to achieve the best results. While being mindful of competing demands, a great superintendent will be guided by what is best for all students.
The Office of the Superintendent includes:
- KCPS Superintendent
- Executive Assistant to the Superintendent
- Director of Education Foundation
- Interim Deputy Superintendent
- Interim Chief of Staff
- Chief Legal Officer
- Interim Chief Financial Officer
- Chief Human Resources Officer
- Chief Technology Officer
- Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
Dr. Jennifer Collier - Interim Superintendent
Interim Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Collier has served as an educator in Kansas City Public Schools for 22 years. She's been a teacher, assistant principal, principal, Chief Human Resource Officer and Deputy Superintendent. Dr. Collier earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas, a Master’s of Arts in education from Avila University and an Educational Specialist degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She received her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from UMKC in 2018. A life-long learner, Dr. Collier has completed the National Institute of School Leaders (NISL) program and is a certified NISL trainer. In this role, she has provided training for educators and school leaders across the state of Missouri. She also received a certificate from the Harvard University School Turnaround Leaders Institute in 2019. Additionally, Dr. Collier is Professional of Human Resources (PHR) certified.
Dr. Collier comes from a family of educators, and education has always played an integral role in her life. She is very passionate about education and believes that all children deserve access to a rigorous, equitable and culturally responsive education, as it has the power to unlock doors of experience, access and opportunities that would otherwise be closed. One of Dr. Collier’s most urgent academic goals is to ensure that KCPS students are proficient readers. She believes that literacy is a social justice issue and every child, no matter their race, social-economic status, zip code or education level of their parents, has the right to learn to read. It is a moral imperative, as competence in literacy will either serve as a gatekeeper or a passport to a promising future. With laser-like focus on literacy, math and culturally responsive practices, KCPS will be on our way toward fulfilling our mission of every child thriving socially, emotionally and academically.
Dr. Collier has built long-lasting relationships during her tenure with the district. A classically-trained vocalist, she taught music at Northeast High School for a decade before stepping into building leadership roles. Later, as principal of Border Star Montessori, Dr. Collier and her staff dramatically improved English Language Arts scores and school attendance. As Chief Human Resource Officer, she established a recruitment/retention team to attract and hire top certified talent to KCPS. During her tenure as CHRO, KCPS was also able to increase the number of teachers of color serving in our schools and classrooms. Under Dr. Collier’s leadership, the HR team also made improvements to the district’s evaluation program, onboarding process and Leadership Continuity Plan for executive- and building-level administrators.
As KCPS Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Collier managed the academic, social-emotional and operational functioning of schools, overseeing the Departments of School Leadership, Curriculum and Instruction, Professional Development, Student Support, Equity and Inclusion and Human Resources. Under her leadership, KCPS launched Project “Support Our Schools,” an initiative to help schools address pandemic-related staffing shortages. Currently, she is leading her departments in a culturally responsive curriculum audit ahead of the 2022-23 school year and overseeing academic vision work as part of the district’s Blueprint 2030 future planning process.
Dr. Collier delights in the opportunity to lead the district that she loves and has served over the last 22 years. She believes that KCPS’ best days are yet to come!
Dr. Derald Davis - Interim Deputy Superintendent & Chief Equity Officer
Dr. Derald Davis has been employed with Kansas City Public Schools for 27 years. Dr. Davis was named Interim Deputy Superintendent and Chief Equity Officer in July 2022. His departmental oversight includes School Leadership, Curriculum and Instruction, Student Support, Research and Accountability, and Equity, Inclusion and Innovation.
Prior to his appointment as Interim Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Davis served as the Assistant Superintendent of Equity, Inclusion and Innovation and led the development and advancement of programs that enhance the values of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging throughout the school system. In this capacity, he led the district’s Equity Steering Committee, facilitated professional development for staff at all levels of the organization on implicit bias and other equity-focused topics, and worked with leaders to strengthen capacity to foster equitable, inclusive and anti-racist learning environments. Dr. Davis also led the creation and implementation of a district-wide mentoring program which focuses on involving the entire metropolitan area in impacting the lives of students. Under his leadership, the KCPS mentoring program won the 2018 South Kansas City Alliance Outstanding Educational Achievement Program Award.
Dr. Davis previously served as the Assistant Superintendent of School Leadership in KCPS and was responsible for providing administrative direction, coaching and support to all K-12 building principals. Prior to that, Dr. Davis served as a principal for numerous years and is highly regarded for his leadership in creating rigorous, safe and inclusive school cultures. Prior to serving as principal, Dr. Davis was a Black history and multicultural studies teacher.
Dr. Davis is the recipient of numerous professional awards, including the Anna Julia Cooper Excellence in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Award from the National Society for Experiential Education (2022); the Educator of the Decade Award from Lincoln University (2021); the Outstanding Educator Service Award from Phi Delta Kappa Sorority (2018); the Turnaround Leader Award from Kansas City Public Schools (2014); the Joseph B. Whitehead Educator of Distinction Award from the Coca Cola Scholars Foundation (2014); and the Ida B. Wells Risk Taker Award from the National Alliance of Black School Educators (2014).
Charnissa Holliday-Scott - Interim Chief of Staff
Charnissa Holliday-Scott, Esq., has been selected as Dr. Jennifer Collier’s Interim Chief of Staff for the 2022-23 school year. Ms. Holliday-Scott is not new to Kansas City Public Schools. She worked for the school district from 1997-2007 and returned in 2019 as the Director of Education Systems. As Chief of Staff, Ms. Holliday-Scott’s work will focus on facilitating and overseeing the Interim Superintendent's transition team, assessing and reviewing internal district processes, participating in the Blueprint 2030 process and collaborating with executive team members to determine and prioritize operational and educational strategies to move KCPS in attaining its strategic goals. She will also continue to consult on legal matters, negotiate and lead education collaboration projects with charter schools, participate in government relations work and oversee district charter school sponsorship accountability and compliance.
During her previous time with Kansas City Public Schools, Ms. Holliday-Scott spent over ten years working in Exceptional Education, which covered the areas of Special Education, Gifted Education and Section 504. As part of her experience, she has served as an Interim Exceptional Education Director, an Exceptional Education Compliance Officer and an Exceptional Education Coordinator.
As an Interim Exceptional Education Director and Compliance Officer, Ms. Holliday-Scott represented KCPS in several special education mediation sessions, resolution conferences and due process hearings. While overseeing the Exceptional Education Department, her team was responsible for providing educational services to over 4,500 students, supporting over 450 staff members and managing a budget over $30 million.
In her time away from KCPS, Ms. Holliday-Scott practiced law. The former law partner’s work primarily focused on Education Law, Employment Discrimination, Insurance Defense and General Liability Defense work representing municipalities, school districts/school systems, utility companies, for- and non-profit corporations and private individuals. Ms. Holliday-Scott is active with The Missouri Bar; the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association (KCMBA); Council of School Attorneys (COSA); and the Jackson County Bar Association (JCBA). She previously provided pro bono legal services through the Volunteer Attorney Project of Legal Aid of Western Missouri and the Jackson County Family Court.
Ms. Holliday-Scott, a SuperLawyers Rising Star in 2017, 2018 and 2019, has presented in CLE seminars for KCMBA, UMKC, JCBA and the Ross T. Roberts Trial Academy. She is the recipient of the UMKC Alumni Truman Leadership Award and was inducted into the National Order of Barristers. She was a member of the 2013-14 Missouri Bar Leadership Academy Class and served as a Consultant to the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission regarding IDEA Claims.
Currently, Ms. Holliday-Scott serves on the Board of Directors of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Law Foundation, the Board of Governors for the UMKC Alumni Association, the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Foundation and as the Community Co-chairman of the Kansas City Health Commission Education Committee. From 2015-2019, she served on the Board of the Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers, and from 2013-2021, she served on the Board of the Missouri Public Charter School Association.
In addition to her law degree, Ms. Holliday-Scott holds an Education Specialist degree in Superintendency, a Master’s of Arts in Education and a Bachelor’s of Arts.
William Thornton - Chief Legal Counsel
William Thornton was selected to be the Chief Legal Counsel for Kansas City Public Schools in November of 2018. He had most recently served as the General Legal Counsel for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education since February of 2014. Before that, Mr. Thornton was the Kansas Secretary of Commerce from November 2009 to January 2011 under Governor Mark Parkinson.
Thornton received a bachelor’s degree from Benedictine College and a Juris Doctor from Washburn University's School of Law. Thornton worked with Hallmark Cards and also as an attorney with Duncan-Senecal Law Offices, Chartered, in Atchison.
Thornton was appointed to the Kansas Board of Regents by former Governor Kathleen Sebelius in 2007, as well as the Kansas Mentor’s Leadership Council and the Kansas Health Care Information Exchange Commission. He was appointed to the Advisory Committee of the Kansas Long Range Transportation Plan by Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller.
Mr. Thornton has also served as the Atchison Hospital Association’s Board Chair, on the University of Kansas’ Multicultural Scholars National Board of Advisors, as the Vice President of Citizens for Community Action of Atchison, as a Board Member and District Leader for the Midori Yama Budokai Martial Arts Association and as President of the Trustee Board for Shiloh Baptist Church.
Erin Thompson - Interim Chief Financial Officer
Erin Thompson was named Interim CFOO for Kansas City Public Schools on July 1, 2022. Ms. Thompson has been employed with KC Public Schools for twenty-eight years in the area of Business and Finance. Her department responsibilities include Budget, Finance, Purchasing, Payroll, Benefits, Child Nutrition Services, Maintenance, Custodial Services, and Transportation.
Ms. Thompson began her career with KC Public Schools in 1994 as a Senior Budget Specialist for schools. She has since served as the Budget Officer, Director of Business Services, and most recently as the Executive Director of Business and Finance. Ms. Thompson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In her capacity leading the Business and Finance Division, the District has consistently achieved an annual balanced budget plan supporting the Superintendent’s academic priorities. The District’s operating reserve level has maintained or exceeded 25% of the operating budget each year. Due to these continuous key financial factors being met, the Standards and Poor’s rating for the District’s borrowing power stands at an A+ rating. Another area of importance for Ms. Thompson is Women and Minority vendor participation in the supplies and services procured by the District. Each fiscal year we strive to increase the MWBE percentage participation to meet the Board’s current goal of 18%. She credits her hard working and supportive team of outstanding employees for the excellent financial status of KC Public Schools.
Ms. Thompson is a product of KC Public Schools, having attended grades K-12 as a student, and graduating from Southwest High School. She serves on the steward board and finance committee at Ebenezer AME Church. In her role as Interim CFOO, Ms. Thompson is committed to maintaining a strong financial system to support student needs while also emphasizing excellence in operational functions at the schools.
Jordan Gordon - Chief Human Resources Officer
Jordan Gordon joined Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) in 2017 as an Area Supervisor and was soon promoted to Director of Child Nutrition. Under Jordan’s leadership, KCPS has launched several successful initiatives to expand child nutrition programming and partnerships garnering local, state and national recognition. Jordan has been featured as a keynote speaker for No Kid Hungry and facilitated several leadership development seminars for both DESE and National Conferences. As a collaborative, people-oriented leader; Jordan has developed thriving partnerships in the KCPS community, focused on ensuring equitable access of resources for families and students of KCPS.
Prior to joining KCPS, Jordan honorably served in the U.S. Army as a Combat Engineer and chartered a successful career, spanning over ten years leading workforce strategies, capacity building and system enhancements in the corporate sector. Jordan previously worked for McDonalds Corporate as a Region Manager and eventually, Franchise Consultant, leading business operations and human resources functions across a multi-state region. Jordan most recently served as an operations leader for the new market development of a joint-venture with Cheddar’s Restaurants until a successful portfolio acquisition was completed in 2017. Additionally, Jordan is a product of KCPS, having matriculated grades PreK-12 as a student, and graduating from Northeast High School. Jordan holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s in business administration (MBA). Jordan is also pursuing a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) Certification. He is a member of the National K-12 Advisory Council and Missouri Association of School Business Officials.
In the role of Executive Director of Human Resources, Jordan is committed to leading the critical work of maintaining a high-capacity workforce dedicated to serving the students, families and stakeholders of KCPS.