Five neighboring districts sue over transfers from Kansas City Public Schools

Five suburban school districts have asked a judge to halt student transfers from Kansas City Public Schools until issues of transportation, tuition and eligibility are resolved.

School districts in Blue Springs, Independence, Lee’s Summit, North Kansas City and Raytown are willing to accept students from the Kansas City system, which will lose its state accreditation Jan. 1, but believe that the system’s transfer policy violates state law, according to a statement released today.

“There are a lot of issues that need to be resolved and finalized for these transfers to take place,” said Jim Hinson, superintendent of the Independence School District.

The districts filed their suit Friday in Jackson County Circuit Court.

According to the suit, the Kansas City board of education adopted a policy earlier this month requiring districts receiving its students to provide transportation for students and did not state that the Kansas City schools would pay tuition on terms set by the receiving district.

The five districts contend that state law requires the Kansas City schools to pay for both transportation and tuition at an amount set by the receiving district.

The districts also contend that the Kansas City schools policy allows transfers only for those students who have attended school for two semesters preceding the transfer. Hinson said state law allows all resident students to transfer.

“It’s not about whether we want students,” Hinson said. “We want a common-sense approach so all of these issues can be worked out.”

The suit asks a judge to either block the transfers until the legality of the Kansas City policy is clarified, or require the Kansas City schools to pay for the transportation and tuition of all students who wish to transfer.

Before the Kansas City school board adopted the policy, the superintendent of the North Kansas City district warned that the tuition dispute could prevent it from accepting transfers.

Current North Kansas City policy requires any transferring student to pay the year’s tuition in full before being enrolled. That amount is $9,508. Kansas City’s policy stated that it would pay tuition on a monthly basis and that until tuition requirements were clarified, it would pay the state allocation per pupil, $3,733.

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