KC school district asks Missouri for temporary provisional accreditation

07/21/2014 6:08 PM

07/22/2014 9:11 AM

Kansas City Public Schools wants the state of Missouri to grant the district provisional accreditation now — on a temporary basis — rather than wait on a process for reaccreditation that will probably play out this fall.

The Missouri State Board of Education has added the district’s request to its agenda for its meeting Tuesday in Jefferson City.

Superintendent Steve Green said the district is making its request now because as many as 18 students are lining up to transfer out of the unaccredited district under a state law that allows students to transfer to nearby accredited districts with tuition paid by the unaccredited district.

Under the law, those students probably would have to return after one year because Kansas City continues to be confident it will earn provisional accreditation from the state board this fall and end the district’s exposure to the transfer law.

“The timing on how this unfolds is our concern,” Green said.

Kansas City would like to avoid what has been a sometime tumultuous transfer experience in the St. Louis area, where the Normandy and Riverview Gardens school districts are unaccredited.

About 2,000 children took the chance to transfer from those districts in the 2013-2014 school year, but some of the surrounding districts have balked at continuing taking transfers as the state has recommended lower tuition rates to try to ease the financial strain that has crippled the unaccredited districts.

Green said he thinks there is plenty of data in the state’s hands now that shows that Kansas City’s next state report card will score at least in the provisional range for the second year in a row and probably even in the fully accredited range, he said.

But those scores, compiled in annual performance reports, won’t be made public until Aug. 29, three weeks into the new school year.

Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro has said that she would recommend the Kansas City district for provisional status if it were to repeat last year’s performance, but such a recommendation probably would not be presented to the state board until October.

“We want to avoid having families go and then having to come back,” Green said.

The state’s guidelines on transfers — which are only recommendations and not specified in the law — tell districts that any transfers should be allowed to finish the school year if a district’s accreditation status were to change.

The Kansas City district reported that 24 students signed up to transfer, but 18 are preparing to go through the process, Green said. He said their families have been advised that there is a significant probability that they would have to return after this school year.

A spokeswoman for the state said the board’s discussion of Kansas City’s request probably will occur in closed session because Kansas City has a pending lawsuit that seeks provisional status.

To reach Joe Robertson, call 816-234-4789 or send email to jrobertson@kcstar.com.

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