KANSAS CITY — A Missouri Supreme Court ruling may open the door for students in failing Kansas City schools to transfer into neighboring school districts. The state high court rejected claims that school transfers would impose an unfunded mandate on other school districts.
The case involves St. Louis schools, but it’s similar to a pending appeal involving districts around Kansas City that are also claiming school transfers are unconstitutional.
State law allows students to transfer out schools that aren’t accredited. Since the St. Louis case was filed, schools there have regained provisional accreditation. The Kansas City School District continues to work to regain provisional accreditation. That’s why many suspect the ruling may have more of an impact here.
But not Kansas City School Superintendent Stephen Green. He says school transfers soon may become a non-issue because Kansas City families are committed to seeing the district improve.
“We’re in a very different place now than when we were announced as unaccredited,” Green said. “We’ve moved ahead of a number of districts and we are well on the way toward a provisional accreditation this year and really are marching toward full accreditation next year. That’s the plan. That’s the game plan we have in play.”
Five suburban districts are continuing to challenge school transfers as a Hancock Amendment violation because the new students would increase costs without adequate compensation.
In a prepared statement, one of the districts involved in that pending appeal, Raytown Schools, reacted to the court ruling saying, “There are crucial differences between the cases and the Supreme Court’s recent opinion does not necessarily foreshadow how the court will rule on (our) appeal.”
Neighboring districts aren’t the only ones complaining about transfer costs. School transfers could bankrupt the Kansas City district if it’s left with fewer students in schools while at the same time paying for tuition and transportation for students headed to other districts.