Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Local Districts Prepare for Impact of KC’s Loss of Accreditation

By Andrea Wood & Paul Thompson
School administrators in Grandview C-4 and Hickman Mills C-1 are among the local districts scrambling for a plan after the announcement last Tuesday that the Kansas City School District had lost its accreditation.
The unaccredited status begins Jan. 1, 2012.
According to state statute, the boards of unaccredited schools “shall pay the tuition of and provide transportation…for each pupil resident therein who attends an accredited school in another district of the same or adjoining county” and that “each pupil shall be free to attend the public school of his or her choice.”
Grandview Superintendent Dr. Ralph Teran acknowledged that the district has already been questioned about a student transfer.
“We’ve had, to my knowledge, one inquiry,” he said last Thursday. Teran noted that districts immediately bordering Kansas City would likely be more greatly affected, but acknowledged that Grandview could end up becoming a landing spot for former Kansas City School District students.
Hickman Mills Deputy Superintendent Dr. Everlyn Williams told residents at the Southern Communities Coalition meeting last Wednesday that district administrators will be talking strategy this week about a possible influx of Kansas City students.
“We can take more,” she said, noting that the district’s enrollment is down again this year to approximately 6,200. She said the distict can handle some 7,000 students.
A lawsuit in St. Louis may also impact how local school districts handle the possible influx of Kansas City students.
The St. Louis School District has been
unaccredited since 2007, but students have been left with little choice but remaining with the district since neighboring districts have been hesitant about admitting them.
A lawsuit, Turner v. Clayton School District was filed, bringing into question whether or not a school district be required to admit non-resident students from unaccredited school districts.
On Tuesday, Sept. 13, Judge David Vincent granted a joint motion for a continuance, postponing the start of the Turner v. Clayton trail until Jan. 23, 2012 at 1:30 p.m.
As the case makes it’s way through the court system, Judge Breckenridge pointed out that while each pupil is free to choose the school the pupil desires to attend, that choice is limited by the chosen district’s decision whether or not to grant a non-resident discretionary waiver from the receiving district. A summary states:
This interpretation is consistent with policy statements issued by the state’s department of elementary and secondary education and avoids the absurd result in which an unlimited number of students from St. Louis city could attend the Clayton school district even if it meant the district exceeded its capacity or it had difficulty collecting tuition payments from the transitional school district.
Districts are looking not only at their own potential impact and the St. Louis court case, but also Kansas City’s own history, to determine what may happen.
After all, this is not the first time the Kansas City school district has been unaccredited. The school district also lost accreditation in 1999, which took affect in 2000. Then in 2006, the school district was improved to a provisionally accredited status.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), recommended the most recent downgrade after the school district met only three of 14 state progress and assessment APR standards.
The loss of accreditation puts Kansas City schools on a two-year probation where the district will work closely with the state board of education. If the district does not show marked improvement during those two years, the state must decide whether to take over the district, or dissolve it.
According to Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro, this is the best action for students and children of the school district. Nicastro said she hopes that it will in fact galvanize some definitive action on the part of the district, the community and the department.

No comments:

Post a Comment