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Area School Districts Seek Clarification from Court

Five area school districts, as well as individual taxpayers from those districts, have filed a petition in Jackson County court seeking clarification regarding a Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) policy governing student transfers. The districts are: Blue Springs, Independence, Lee’s Summit, North Kansas City and Raytown. The petition seeks to delay the implementation of the KCPS transfer policy while the education and governance issues of KCPS are determined in the courts, legislature or State Board of Education.

KCPS loses its accreditation January 1, 2012. Under state law, students residing in the Kansas City, Missouri school district are eligible to apply for a transfer to an accredited school district in Jackson County or an adjoining county. Prior to 1993, this law stated that accredited school districts could choose whether or not to admit students from unaccredited schools. Under an amendment to the law in 1993, accredited schools districts are required to admit student transfers from an unaccredited district if the unaccredited district provides transportation and pays tuition as determined by the accredited district. Blue Springs, Independence, Lee’s Summit, North Kansas City and Raytown are accredited school districts to which KCPS students may seek a transfer.

On December 21, 2011, the KCPS Board of Education adopted a policy that requires the receiving accredited school districts to provide transportation for students. The policy does not state that KCPS will pay tuition in an amount set by the accredited districts or in accordance with the accredited districts’ tuition policies. Furthermore, the KCPS policy also does not allow all resident students to transfer, but instead, only allows students who have attended a KCPS school for two academic semesters immediately preceding the transfer request to a transfer.

The five districts listed above are committed to meeting their legal obligations to all students involved.

On Friday, December 23, representatives from the five districts filed the joint petition in Jackson County, Missouri, which asks the court to clarify the rights and responsibilities of the parties under the recent KCPS student transfer policy. The petition also asks the court to clarify the responsibilities of the parties under the statute regarding transfers, and to determine that the KCPS Board of Education policy is in violation of the Hancock Amendment.

Specifically, the petition asks for:

1. An injunction prohibiting KCPS from transferring resident pupils of KCPSaccording to its student transfer policy or in accordance with state law, Section 167.131 revised statutes of Missouri .

2. The court to declare:

a. KCPS student transfer policy is void as a violation of 167.131 revised statutes of Missouri.

b. KCPS transfer policy is invalid as it requires accredited schools to provide an education for and transportation of KCPS students in violation of Hancock Amendment.

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