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Raytown School District press release concerning a recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling

Raytown School District press release concerning the recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling that requires a suburban school district to accept St. Louis School District students. 

 

Supreme Court Enters Order Declaring Student Transfer Statute Constitutional as to Clayton and St. Louis School Districts; Kansas City Area Accredited School Districts Will Proceed with their Challenge of the Statute

 

The Supreme Court issued a ruling today on an appeal concerning whether RSMo. § 167.131 is constitutional as to the Clayton School District and the St. Louis Public School District.  The Court determined that the statute is constitutional as to those school districts, a ruling which gives students residing in the St. Louis Public School District the unconditional right to transfer to surrounding accredited districts, including the Clayton School District.  The Court found that the transfer statute does not violate the Hancock Amendment to the Missouri Constitution in that it does not impose any new or increased duty on the Clayton School District.  Although the facts underlying the Clayton and St. Louis School Districts’ appeal are somewhat similar to the facts underlying a currently-pending appeal involving Kansas City Area Accredited School Districts, there are crucial differences between the cases and the Supreme Court’s recent opinion does not necessarily foreshadow how the Court will rule on the Area School District’s appeal.  Critically, prior to the trial concerning the Kansas City Area Accredited School Districts, the State stipulated that RSMo. § 167.131 imposes a new mandate on accredited districts and that there is no State funding for the new mandate.

In a lawsuit filed on December 23, 2011, the Kansas City Area Accredited School Districts (Blue Springs, Independence, Lee’s Summit, North Kansas City, and Raytown School Districts), and taxpayers from those district, asserted that the transfer statute is unconstitutional under the Hancock Amendment. The trial of the case took place from August 6, 2012 to August 8, 2012.  Prior to the trial, on August 1, 2012, Judge Brent Powell of the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri issued an order concerning portions of the Area School Districts’ Hancock Amendment claim.  Contrary to the Supreme Court’s opinion in the Breitenfeld case as to the Clayton and St. Louis school districts, Judge Powell determined that the transfer statute does impose a new mandate on the Kansas City Area Accredited School Districts to admit a new population of students from the Kansas City School District.  Judge Powell further determined prior to the trial that the State had failed to make a specific appropriation to finance the costs of the new mandate.  

Following the Judge Powell’s August 1st Order, the only issue that remained for trial was whether the transfer statute would impose increased costs on the Area School Districts.  Prior to trial, the State stipulated that (1) the mandate to admit non-resident students residing in unaccredited school districts was a new mandate created by an amendment to RSMo. § 167.131 in 1993; and (2) the Area School Districts would not receive any specific funding directly from the State to finance the costs associated with admitting and educating KCPS students.  After hearing evidence at trial concerning the increased costs that the transfer statute would impose on each of the Area School Districts, Judge Powell issued a split ruling on August 16, 2012 declaring that the statute was unconstitutional as to the Independence, Lee’s Summit, and North Kansas City School Districts, and not unconstitutional as to the Blue Springs and Raytown School Districts. 

Taxpayers of the Kansas City Area School Districts will proceed with their challenge of the student transfer statute.  The Taxpayers and Area School Districts agree with the stipulation of the State of Missouri that the transfer statute imposes a new mandate on accredited school districts in that it requires accredited districts to admit a new population of students which they were previously not required to admit.  In their continued challenge of the statute, the Taxpayers and Area School Districts will highlight that the complete absence of any funding from the State for non-resident transfer students is violative of the Hancock Amendment, which protects citizens from tax increases. 

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