Indian Mound resident Manny Abarca resigned from his seat on the Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) Board of Education on December 31 to be sworn into his newly elected seat at Jackson County.
Abarca was elected to represent KCPS Sub-District 3 in 2019 to serve through 2025, and was also the Board’s treasurer. His district included a portion of the Historic Northeast, Columbus Park, City Market, a portion of Downtown, Quality Hill, and the Historic Westside communities.
“It has been one of the highlights of my life to serve on the Kansas City Public School board through some of our most challenging times, whether it be closing schools during the global pandemic – one of the hardest decisions of my life – or witnessing us finally achieve FULL accreditation,” Abarca wrote in a letter shared on social media. “Some of my proudest accomplishments were advocating for greater transparency and public engagement around the budgeting process; fighting for additional funding for teacher supplies, expanded fine arts and band funding, purchasing new text and library books, and allocating millions for social emotional support programs. I am leaving with much of our shared pro-public education agenda left unfinished, but sadly my time has been cut short.”
When Abarca ran for Jackson County Legislature’s First District seat, he planned to retain his position on the KCPS Board. However, according to the County Charter, elected officials are not allowed to hold two elected offices at the same time due to potential conflict of interest issues. Despite the Charter verbiage, Abarca challenged the statute in court in December 2022 seeking injunctive relief, asking that he be allowed to sit on both the County Legislature and the KCPS Board.
Abarca’s petition, however, was declined by the courts late in December and on New Years Eve, he resigned his school board seat. Two other recently elected legislators were waiting on Abarca’s case to see if they could retain their seats on other area school boards.
“To the KCPS Team, know this was not my choice, but due to the inaction of the courts this is what I am left with,” Abarca wrote. “Together, you must persevere and show the State, determined on breaking apart our public education system, that we can turn an urban district around and hold our ground.”
He had hoped to bring his three years of experience to the next hard decisions ahead of KCPS and leave with greater stability and firm leadership in place.
“With the superintendent search ahead, the decision on what to close and leave open, the further destabilization of public education and politicization of a four-day school week, and potentially our first bond proposal in over 50 years ahead, you all must stay focused,” Abarca wrote. “Focused on putting students at the forefront of decision making, and making the hard, adult decisions that ensure KCPS will be stronger for the next 100 years. Your fate is in your hands – don’t give up.”
Abarca stays committed to this district with his own family, but more importantly, with his advocacy and continued engagement, he concluded.
“My service to this district has truly been an honor that I will never forget,” Abarca wrote. “Thank you for allowing me to serve.”