The Buzz

January 21, 2014

Missouri Senator files bill urging provisional accreditation for KC schools

Sen. Paul LeVota hopes resolution can spur action and help the district avoid ramifications of the student transfer law.

The Buzz

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State Sen. Paul LeVota is asking his fellow lawmakers to join him in calling on the Missouri Board of Education to grant Kansas City Public Schools provisional accreditation in the hopes that the district can avoid the ramifications of a controversial student transfer law.

Kansas City Public Schools have been unaccredited since January 2012. However, due to a series of lawsuits over the years it has not had to abide by a law that permits students in unaccredited school districts to enroll in accredited districts, with tuition and transportation provided by the failing districts -- a situation that critics say will bankrupt urban schools and overcrowded suburban classrooms.

The district

scored enough points on the state report cards

issued in August to be granted provisional status, but state Board of Education members argued that one more year of progress was needed.

LeVota, a Democrat from Independence, has drafted a resolution that would encourage the state to grant the district provisional status immediately, arguing that Kansas City has had two years of improving scores, the same as St. Louis public schools when they were granted provisional accreditation.

The resolution also urges the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Eduction to use the authority it was granted by lawmakers last year to intervene in failing districts, among other suggestions.

It also asks that the department submit a budget that would cover the cost of tuition and transportation for students who have already transferred out of two unaccredited districts near St. Louis.

LeVota said his hope is that the state takes action soon and doesn’t wait for lawmakers to solve the problem legislatively, which could take several months.

“This is a way of showing the department that they have the support of the legislature in taking the necessary steps,” he said.

Several proposals have been put forth in regards to unaccredited districts, both by lawmakers as well as various interest groups. A state-hired consultant

proposed its plan earlier this month, followed shortly thereafter by one proposed by Kansas City school officials. The department of education plans public meetings over the next several weeks to gather ideas and reactions.

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