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Missouri Districts Seek Clarification on Kansas City Transfer Policy

In January, the 17,400-student Kansas City, Mo. school district will lose its accreditation, beset by student achievement and leadership woes.

Missouri law allows students in Kansas City to transfer to nearby accredited school districts, at the expense of the Kansas City district. But, as I wrote in November, those neighboring districts were worried that they wouldn't be able to handle an influx of new students in the middle of the school year.

Now, five of those districts are asking the courts to halt transfers until several issues, including tuition and transportation, are resolved. The districts—Blue Springs, Independence, Lee's Summit, North Kansas City and Raytown—say in a statement that the Kansas City district recently enacted a policy that may leave those receiving school systems on the hook for education costs.

Back on Dec. 21, Kansas City approved a transfer policy to prepare families for the changes ahead. The Kansas City district says that it will not be responsible for transportation costs other than to four districts that share a boundary with the Kansas City school system. Those districts include Independence, North Kansas City and Raytown; Kansas City will not pay for transportation to Blue Springs or Lee's Summit, it says.

The Kansas City district also says that if there is a dispute over how much tuition should be paid to a receiving district, it will pay the receiving district the equivalent of the state aid allocation, about $3,700, until the dispute is resolved. From the district's FAQ document:

KCPS is acting according to its interpretation of a broadly‐written state law. The entire process represents uncharted waters; no precedent exists for this process. As the issue plays out in state courts, KCPS has attempted to fill the void by developing a process that's fair both to students that would transfer and those students that will stay. It is not KCPS' intent to "hold students hostage," nor to punish or restrict those who choose to leave. Like any other school district, KCPS is dedicated to supporting those students that stay to the best of its ability.

But the five districts seeking a halt to transfers say that Kansas City's plans violate the state's transfer policy, by not providing transportation to all students no matter where they want to go to school, and by not agreeing to a receiving district's tuition request. From the joint statement from the five districts:

The petition is designed as an interim measure until the overarching issues surrounding the future of KCPS can be resolved. By taking this action collectively, the five districts hope to prevent the disruption of KCPS students' education in the middle of an academic year, as well as provide time for a lasting and positive educational solution to be determined that will ultimately benefit all students.

Want to keep up with school district news? Follow @district_doss on Twitter.

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