Shurita Thomas Tate is a member of the Springfield Board of Education. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

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A nonprofit “watchdog” group that called for a school board member to resign in 2023 is asking for Springfield Public Schools to react to a recent judgment against that board member from the Missouri Ethics Commission.

The Missouri Ethics Commission in March 2024 fined Shurita Thomas-Tate for failing to submit financial interest statements in 2020 and 2021 according to Missouri law and Springfield Board of Education policy. A fine of $2,000 was assessed, with the option of reducing that payment by $1,800 if Thomas-Tate paid within 45 days.

The finding was a result of a complaint by J. Michael Hasty, founder of Queen City Watchdog. In 2023, Hasty called for Thomas-Tate to resign after the Springfield Board of Education agreed to a $15,000 contract with Ujima Language and Literacy.

Thomas-Tate founded the group in 2015 — it started as a language fair and has become an effort to boost language and literacy skills for children up to 11 years old. Ujima offers family literacy nights and summer camps to help kids strengthen their reading skills.

Thomas-Tate continues to volunteer with the group and serve on its board of directors, and said that she has never had any financial interest in it.

The Missouri Ethics Commission’s finding did not make any rulings about Springfield Public Schools' contract with Ujima, which was approved with a unanimous board vote. The findings also made no rulings about Thomas-Tate’s involvement with Ujima. 

Shurita Thomas-Tate clarifies the payment

Springfield Public Schools’ Board of Education candidate Shurita Thomas-Tate speaks at a forum sponsored by the Springfield Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, March 23. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

In a statement, Thomas-Tate said the payment was a one-time payment for work performed during an Ujima summer camp in 2021. She said the work went “well beyond” normal amounts of time she spends volunteering for, and supporting, the group.

“I am aware of no other payments made to me or any other member of Ujima’s board before or after it,” Thomas-Tate said. “I am a proud volunteer and supporter of Ujima, and do not bill Ujima or receive payment from Ujima for the time I spend.”

Thomas-Tate said the focus on that payment was the latest in “continued attacks on my integrity” from Hasty. She noted that the payment happened before any deals between Springfield Public Schools and Ujima were approved by the school board. 

“The payment at issue was made almost a year before Ujima had any contract or memorandum of understanding with the district,” Thomas-Tate said. “As I have said, I currently have and never have had any financial interest in Ujima, but I wholeheartedly support the important and beneficial work it is doing for students and families in Springfield.”

Hasty said the group is waiting to see how the board and school district react to the ruling and to a 2021 tax return filed by Ujima that shows Thomas-Tate receiving $2,963 as compensation during that year.

J. Michael Hasty, founder of Queen City Watchdog, speaks at a 2023 news conference at which he alleged that Springfield Public School Board of Education member Dr. Shurita Thomas-Tate had committed financial improprieties involving a conflict between her role on the Board of Education and her role on the board of the local nonprofit group that she founded, Ujima. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

“If you are going to be an elected official, you are opening yourself up to the scrutiny of the public that you serve,” Hasty said. “You should be held to, in my opinion, the highest ethical standard. She did not file those financial disclosures … but she also lied in multiple statements that did not receive compensation.”

School board president responds

Danielle Kincaid, president of the Springfield Board of Education, said that no actions have been taken regarding the recent finding against Thomas-Tate. A board member may ask for the matter to be placed on the agenda of a future meeting, she said.

But in terms of disciplinary actions, the board has nothing that matches the impact of the finding and fine already levied by the Missouri Ethics Commission.

“The only piece the board has, if the board were wanting to reprimand a board member for behavior, would be a censure,” Kincaid said.

Hasty is a Republican candidate in the 2024 election for Missouri House of Representatives District 135, running against incumbent Democrat Rep. Betsy Fogle. Hasty ran for Springfield City Council in 2021, and picked up a candidate packet in 2023 to run for school board, but did not turn in the needed signatures.

History of criticism

He said his group is interested in transparency, and not for singling out any one candidate. He said the group plans to request similar documents from all school board members, including persons no longer on the board.

Queen City Watchdog has a yearlong history of criticizing Thomas-Tate.

Hasty’s call for her resignation came as Thomas-Tate was running for re-election. Also during that election cycle, Hasty’s group published footage of Thomas-Tate not saying the Pledge of Allegiance during board meetings. While the source of the video was unknown, that footage was used to target Thomas-Tate in negative campaign ads funded by partisan political groups.

Queen City Watchdog published Ujima’s tax return to its Facebook page April 18, linking it to the MEC finding and saying it had yet to see Springfield Public Schools make any responses.

Hasty acknowledged Thomas-Tate’s win from voters, but said his group would like to see the school district make “some sort of admonishment or disciplinary action.”

“If it wasn’t the doubling or tripling down of the lie, I would have been satisfied that the MEC validated our complaint,” Hasty said. “I think we as the public want a response about why you lie about something that seems so frivolous.”

Joe Hadsall

Joe Hadsall is the education reporter for the Hauxeda. Hadsall has more than two decades of experience reporting in the Ozarks with the Joplin Globe, Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine. Contact him at (417) 837-3671 or More by Joe Hadsall