• By Elisa Crouch

    ST. LOUIS • In looking to find someone to help govern St. Louis Public Schools, Mayor Francis Slay reached out to someone he has turned to in the past.

    Slay announced Monday his appointment of Darnetta Clinkscale to the district's Special Administrative Board. Clinkscale is the patient care director at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and replaces Melanie Adams, who resigned from the board last month to move to Minnesota.

    Clinkscale will serve with Rick Sullivan and Richard Gaines, who have served on the SAB since it was created by the state in 2007.

    "She will help provide stable governance to a district that has steadily improved since the hiring of superintendent Dr. Kelvin Adams," Slay said in a press statement. "However, much work remains, and Ms. Clinkscale will work to provide support and oversight to the district as it continues working on improving the academic performance of its students."

    Clinkscale’s appointment ends in June 2019.

    On Monday, she spoke with Sullivan. She plans to be introduced at the SAB meeting Monday evening at the district’s central office.

    "The biggest thing i am concerned about are the children of St. Louis," Clinkscale said. "I want to serve them."

    Clinkscale has a degree in biological science from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Respiratory Therapy, and has an MBA from Lindenwood College.

    In 2003, Clinkscale led a slate of reform candidates who ran for school board with Slay’s backing. Once elected, that group responded to a budget shortfall by closing schools and turning the district's maintenance and food services over to private companies. In 2006, those moves, plus the board's $5 million contract with a corporate turnaround firm, proved to be unpopular among voters.

    In 2006, voters replaced Clinkscale and James Buford with new members, Peter Downs and Donna Jones.

    One year later, the Missouri Board of Education revoked the district’s accreditation. The elected board was replaced with a three-member Special Administrative Board that continues to govern city schools, which are provisionally accredited.

    The state board has requested that the Missouri Department of Education begin planning the transition back to elected control. But closed meetings between state representatives, elected board members and the SAB are on hold after one elected board member attempted to make the meetings public.