School & District Management

Kansas City Students Can’t Leave Unaccredited District

By Jaclyn Zubrzycki — June 28, 2013 1 min read
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Though the Kansas City, Mo., school district has been unaccredited since January 2012, an outstanding legal challenge means it’s unlikely that any student will be able to transfer out of the district to an accredited neighbor until at least 2014-15, the Kansas City Star reports.

By law, students in unaccredited districts in Missouri are supposed to be able to transfer to accredited school systems, a decision that was upheld by the state’s Supreme Court earlier this month.

In a recent case involving the St. Louis district, the court determined that the requirement that the district pay for students who wanted to transfer to accredited schools was not unrealistic. St. Louis has regained provisional accreditation, but must pay for two students who attended school in a nearby district while it was unaccredited, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

That case has implications for the three other unaccredited districts in the state, and for the districts around them that must accept students. The unaccredited districts would pay tuition and transportation for students who choose to attend accredited districts. Those districts include Riverview Gardens and Normandy School District, both in St. Louis County, and Kansas City.

In St. Louis County, the Hazelwood school district, which is accredited, says it has received calls from over 100 students interested in transferring, according to local news source KMOV.

But there is still an outstanding complaint from a few districts in the Kansas City area—Blue Springs, Independence, Lee’s Summit, North Kansas City and Raytown—which says that the law that would require them to take transfers is an unfunded mandate. The case will likely be returned to the circuit court for consideration, and the decision will likely come too late for transfers for the next school year, the Star reports.

Kansas City Public Media reports that the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recommended that accredited districts that border unaccredited districts publish their class-size and teacher-ratio policies so they can reasonably cap the number of transfers if need be.

The Kansas City district has said it’s making good progress academically and should be on track to regain accreditation. But having to pay that tuition could be financially taxing for the district, and make it even harder for it to regain accreditation.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.