Board of embattled Kansas military school looks to future

February 16, 2019 - 11:27 am

The board of an embattled Kansas military school is exploring what to do with the property as the private boarding school prepares to close after facing years of litigation, including accusations that administrators failed to supervise cadets.

St. John's Military School announced this month that the Salina all-boys school will close after this school year, citing declining enrollment and saying it was unfairly targeted by lawsuits and negative media portrayals.

One of the cases made public last month accused St. John's of intentionally inflicting emotional distress in 2014 on a bullied 11-year-old student who had been physically tied together with his harasser in public as a form of punishment.

The Episcopalian boarding school plans to close after its May 11 graduation.

The board of trustees has begun considering fundraising options to transform the school grounds, including creating a new school, the Salina Journal reported.

"The board is committed to keeping the property as an institution for education," said Col. William Clark, the school's president. "It's too early to determine if it will still be a military school, a boarding school or a day school. All options are open right now."

Clark said the school has received dozens of calls from alumni and supporters looking to save the school, but the board has indicated that St. John's must transform.

"There are about 10 percent of the military schools there once was, and the military school model of the past is now changing and evolving," said Larry Britegam, a St. John's alumnus and a board member. "Society is different, so the concept of education has to be different. The old model, I think it's fair to say, needed a lot of changes."

Britegam said the board is looking for input on how to move forward to benefit the community.

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