Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the Kansas Press Association’s journalist of the year. He has written award-winning news stories about the instability of the Kansas foster care system, misconduct by government officials, sexual abuse, technology, education, and the Legislature. He previously spent 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal. A lifelong Kansan, he graduated from Emporia State University in 2004 as a Shepherd Scholar with a degree in English.

DCF secretary positions Kansas foster care system for progress, looks for autism answers

By: - August 9, 2021

TOPEKA — Laura Howard is eager to point out improvements made in the Kansas foster care system following her return to state government in January 2019. She is working toward additional progress. The secretary of the Department for Children and Families says she is launching an autism work group, focusing on prevention programs, rolling out […]

Chamber leaders from Kansas push for support of massive infrastructure investment

By: - August 6, 2021

TOPEKA — Leaders of the Overland Park and Topeka chambers of commerce say a $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill would provide a once-in-a-lifetime investment in the state’s roads, bridges, airports, broadband, watersheds, and water pipes. Those long-overdue investments are necessary to keep Kansas competitive in a global economy, they argue, and would benefit education, employment, […]

Former D.A. faces ethics complaint for failing to stop misconduct in Topeka murder trial

By: - August 4, 2021

TOPEKA — Former Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor faces an ethics complaint for prosecutorial misconduct by his assistant during the 2012 murder trial of Dana Chandler. The complaint filed Wednesday by Alma attorney Keen Umbehr is based on a panel’s conclusion that Jacqie Spradling should be disbarred for a deliberate pattern of misconduct, including […]

Kansas attorney general will enforce voting law where district attorney refuses

By: - August 2, 2021

TOPEKA — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt on Monday fired a warning shot ahead of Tuesday’s primary elections by making it clear his office could prosecute voting crimes anywhere in the state. Schmidt referenced last week’s announcement by Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez, who said she would not prosecute violations of a new voting […]

Lesbian student’s courage prevails over bigotry by Kansas middle school principal and bus driver

By: - August 1, 2021

TOPEKA — Kristi Gadino didn’t appear to be bothered by the “shockingly profane” language used by middle school students on her bus. An investigator who reviewed video of a Jan. 27 bus ride home from North Lyon County Elementary School wrote in her report that boys and girls could be heard saying “gay-assed motherf***er,” “jerk […]

Kansas A.G. subpoenas reporter’s notes from book on wrongful murder conviction

By: - July 30, 2021

TOPEKA — The Kansas Attorney General’s Office issued a subpoena commanding a journalist to turn over information he gathered while writing a book and news stories about a Jefferson County man who served 16 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. After Kansas Reflector published this story, the attorney general’s office filed a […]

Kansas D.A. refuses to prosecute violations of new law that halted voter registration drives

By: - July 28, 2021

TOPEKA — Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez says she won’t prosecute anyone under a new state law that caused nonprofits to halt voter registration efforts at the start of July. The legislation’s sweeping reforms include a provision that makes it illegal for individuals to engage in conduct that would cause someone to believe they […]

Gov. Laura Kelly said she hoped former Gov. Jeff Colyer had a swift recovery from a bout with cancer than prompted him to drop out of the 2022 governor's race. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas governor: ‘We’re trying everything we can’ to get people vaccinated from COVID-19

By: - July 23, 2021

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly on Friday reaffirmed the state’s commitment to convincing the unvaccinated half of the state’s population to get a life-saving shot. Only 51.4% of eligible Kansans — those ages 12 and above — are fully vaccinated from COVID-19, despite the widespread availability of three safe and effective vaccines and the emergence […]

Haven school board candidate lured into sharing racist ideology with teenage anti-fascists

By: - July 20, 2021

TOPEKA — Reno County resident Josh Wells describes himself as the leader of a Proud Boys group, promotes an all-white nation state, and peddles false conspiracy theories about the financial plot behind COVID-19 and how police instigated the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The owner of Wells Home Repair is also a candidate […]

Kansas judge strikes down law providing speedy challenge to mask mandates in schools

By: - July 15, 2021

TOPEKA — The Legislature’s attempt to promote “legal anarchy” in response to COVID-19 precautions in public schools is unconstitutional, a Johnson County District Court judge ruled Thursday. District Judge David Hauber also determined the entirety of Senate Bill 40 is unenforceable, effectively wiping out a Republican-led charge to restrict the governor’s oversight of emergencies. The decision […]

Kansas judge to decide whether secretary of state can hide public records by altering software

By: - July 14, 2021

TOPEKA — An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas says the state’s open records law might as well not exist if Secretary of State Scott Schwab is allowed to keep public information hidden by reconfiguring software. Attorney Josh Pierson argued Wednesday in Shawnee County District Court for the release of provisional ballot […]

April storms in Kansas caused $22.6 million in damage

By: - July 13, 2021

The tornados, powerful winds and hail during the April storm season in Kansas caused $22.6 million in damage, the state insurance department said Tuesday. The estimated cost is based on 2,295 claims in 95 of the state’s 105 counties. During the April 2020 storm season, 6,341 claims totaled $21.2 million. “We all know Kansas weather […]