KC moms get reprieve as they try to navigate through complex school boundary issues

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Two Kansas City mothers feel relieved and hopeful following a meeting with leaders of a metro charter school, who told them just a few days ago their kids were living outside the district boundaries and would be withdrawn from classes by the end of the week.

That deadline has now been indefinitely extended for two 11-year-old students who attend the Kauffman School off The Paseo on the Southside of Kansas City, Mo., as their parents and administrators explore all their options.

“We’re going to work together to figure out something that works for both of us,” said Hannah Lofthus, CEO and founder of the school. “We have really good communication. We’re really happy with how the meeting went.”

FOX 4 first reported on Monday that the children’s mothers were left upset and scrambling after Kauffman School leaders told them they had five days to find a new school after it was discovered they lived outside the KCPS district.

Mothers Tiffany Merritt and Shayla Hood said they were shocked and confused by the news because their ZIP code is listed as a “preferred geographic area” in the school’s student handbook. They both also have proof of residency paperwork listing their KCMO addresses that was notarized by school officials before the year started.

Both moms sat down with Lofthus and other school leaders Tuesday night to talk about how it happened and what their options are moving forward.

“Going forward right now I feel confident that Kauffman’s going to be able to work with me,” Merrit said. “I just feel a lot better than I did 24 hours ago, as far as Ms. Hannah coming and speaking with me and discussing my options and what I have available in order to stay at Kauffman.”

Lofthus said her hands are tied by state law, which affects every public and charter school in Missouri, according to the executive director of the Missouri Charter Public School Association, Doug Thaman.

“It can happen because a family truly doesn’t know what district they live within,” Thaman explained. “It can happen because a family is confused about charter schools, who they are open to, and it can happen also because families at times are just desperately looking for a choice.”

Merritt said she hopes she can find a loophole in that law, with her only other options being to move into the KCPS district or award temporary guardianship over her daughter to a family member who does live in the district.

Meanwhile, Lofthus said she is willing to work with these families to extend the one week deadline for finding another school while together they explore other options that might allow these children to remain at Kauffman or find a comparable alternative.

“This isn’t a charter school issue, or a Kauffman School issue,” Lofthus said. “Every single public district and charter school is dealing with this issue and it’s really tough, and it’s hard to navigate and parents and schools have to work together to come to a solution.”