Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the 2021 and 2022 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.

‘Our most difficult point’: Unvaxxed COVID patients overflow hospitals as doctors beg for help

By: - January 5, 2022

TOPEKA — Jennifer Schrimsher, a physician at Lawrence Memorial Health, was up until 2 a.m. revising contingency plans. The hospital, like all others in Kansas, is coping with unprecedented numbers of COVID-19 patients and staff members out sick with the virus. She doesn’t know what to do. “We’ve offered insane amounts of overtime,” Schrimsher said. […]

Kansas Reflector’s 2021 year in review: Insurrection, deep freeze, vaccines, arrests, Bob Dole

By: - December 31, 2021

TOPEKA — The year began with the ominous declaration that four members of the Kansas congressional delegation would support President Donald Trump’s lies about voter fraud by refusing to acknowledge the fair and accurate results of the election. Then, on Jan. 6, the president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in shocking violent rage, delaying the […]

Kansas Reflector’s 10 most read stories of 2021

By: - December 31, 2021

TOPEKA — These stories from 2021 attracted the most attention at 1. Kansas groups halt voter registration drives to avoid being jailed under new law Read the story. 2. Kansas Senate Majority Leader had 0.17 blood alcohol level in wrong-way pursuit Read the story. 3. Expanded child tax credit payments start July 15. Here’s how […]

Kansas appeals court overturns prison instructor’s conviction for unwanted touching of inmate

By: - December 29, 2021

TOPEKA — The woman who persuaded a Shawnee County jury to convict Tomas Co for sexual harassment and unwanted groping wanted him to understand what it was like to feel powerless and abused. Last week, a three-judge panel on the Kansas Court of Appeals dashed any hopes of making Co think about his actions from […]

Audit of Kansas foster care provider scrutinizes financial controls, IT costs, CEO travel, PPP loan

By: - December 23, 2021

TOPEKA — Former Saint Francis Ministries CEO Robert Smith exploited a lack of financial controls and board oversight to drain the nonprofit’s resources on an IT project and escalating management expenses that included use of taxpayer funds for personal travel, liquor and entertainment. A new audit released by the Kansas Department for Children and Families […]

Kansas lawmakers don’t appreciate $1.9M bill for unconstitutional voter restriction

By: - December 16, 2021

TOPEKA — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt told a panel of lawmakers Thursday that he and Secretary of State Scott Schwab mutually agreed to extend a costly, futile legal battle over the state’s unconstitutional restriction on voter registrations all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The state is now on the hook for $1.9 […]

‘Our greatest challenge’: Latest COVID-19 surge threatens Kansas hospitals again as omicron looms

By: - December 15, 2021

TOPEKA — Steve Stites is nervous. Hospitals, he says, are “full, full, full.” The chief medical officer for the University of Kansas Health System is monitoring a steep climb in COVID-19 hospitalizations, almost entirely from unvaccinated residents, while hospitals already are busy treating patients suffering from influenza and the respiratory syncytial virus. Meanwhile, initial studies […]

Kansas foster care provider agrees to leave Nebraska after months of scrutiny

By: - December 14, 2021

TOPEKA — Nebraska and Saint Francis Ministries have agreed to sever ties after months of intense scrutiny about the Kansas-based foster care provider’s ability to meet the state’s standards of care. NOISE, an Omaha-based nonprofit news service, reports that state officials and the CEO of Saint Francis Ministries announced the joint agreement to terminate the […]

Episcopal church disciplines former leader of Kansas foster care provider

By: - December 13, 2021

TOPEKA — The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago disciplined the Rev. Robert Smith for his poor judgment as the CEO of the largest foster care provider in Kansas, requiring him to undergo ethics and fiduciary training. The church in August suspended Smith from functioning as a priest after conducting an independent investigation into allegations of his […]

Former Kansas health secretary caught off-guard by firing, plans to keep fighting pandemic

By: - December 13, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As former Kansas Department of Health and Environment secretary Lee Norman managed the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, he found himself at the center of a cultural battle between individual rights and the collective good. The way he sees it, blind individualism doesn’t work well during a pandemic. “The United […]

Delta Dental board directors illegally seized power from Kansas dentists, court rules

By: - December 10, 2021

TOPEKA — Political appointees to the Delta Dental of Kansas board illegally extended their terms and stripped power from member dentists during a confidential meeting last December, a Sedgwick County District Court judge ruled Thursday. The judge sided with two dentists who filed a lawsuit over the changes to the nonprofit insurance provider’s articles of […]

Kansas extends deal for patient transfer system used by 115 hospitals during COVID-19 surges

By: - December 8, 2021

TOPEKA — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has extended a contract with Motient for access to a patient transfer system used by 115 hospitals statewide. Known as Mission Control, the program helps overwhelmed hospitals find available bed space for acute care patients. The software also provides a real-time view of surging cases of […]