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State Supreme Court rules on KCMO school transfers

The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that Raytown and other districts in the same or adjoining counties must accept transfers from the Kansas City School District. 


Public Statement by Dr, Allan Markley, Superintendent of the Raytown School District on the Courts ruling and how it affects the Raytown School District. 

Press release from the Raytown School District

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled today that students from unaccredited schools districts may transfer to accredited school districts in the same or an adjoining county. Kansas City (Missouri) Public Schools were denied accreditation, making them an eligible district for student transfers out of the district. The Raytown School District is one of five school districts who asked the court to review allowing transfers, claiming it represented an unfunded mandate and a violation of the Hancock Amendment.

“We will work to comply with the court’s ruling and will operate within the confines of the law, while applying the same tenacity to protect students and taxpayers residing in the Raytown School District,” Superintendent Dr. Allan Markley said regarding the court’s decision.

 The following release was created by legal counsel representing the challenging districts, and it details the components of the ruling:

In response to a claim by taxpayers of five Kansas City Area School Districts that RSMo § 167.131 is unconstitutional because it will cause the taxpayers to bear the additional costs of educating significant numbers of out-of-district students, the Supreme Court held the statute to be constitutional. The statute permits students residing in an unaccredited school district, such as the Kansas City, Missouri Public School District, to transfer to accredited schools in the same or an adjoining county.

The taxpayers, who are residents of the Blue Springs, Independence, Lee’s Summit, North Kansas City, and Raytown School Districts, challenged that the statute was a new or expanded activity or service beyond that required by existing law at the time of the passage of the Hancock Amendment to the Missouri Constitution in 1980. The Hancock Amendment prohibits the State from imposing new activities on political subdivisions without providing full State funding for the costs. Although the State admitted that it has provided no funding whatsoever to cover the costs associated with student transfers, the Supreme Court did not rule on the issue of whether the State has provided adequate funding. Rather, the Court ruling determined that the statute does not impose any new activities on the Kansas City Area School Districts because these districts were always required to educate students.

The Court’s opinion mirrored an opinion it issued earlier this summer in a similar case brought by the Clayton School District. In its decision in the Breitenfeld v. School District of Clayton case, the Supreme Court held that the transfer statute required nothing new of the Clayton School District in that the District was always required to educate “eligible pupils.”

In their appeal, the taxpayers of the Kansas City Area School Districts asserted that the statute does present a new mandate because, prior to the passage of the Hancock Amendment in 1980, there was no statutory requirement to admit significant numbers of students who do not meet residency requirements. Despite the unprecedented numbers of out-of-district students that the transfer statute will require the Kansas City Area School Districts to admit and educate, the Court held that the statute imposes no new requirements.

The Kansas City Area School Districts have been working diligently to develop a process for student transfers from the Kansas City, Missouri Public School District. Based on guidance issued by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Area School Districts intend to adopt policies which will allow for transfers to occur during the upcoming 2014-2015 school year. The Area School Districts intend to work cooperatively with the Kansas City Public School District in developing a transfer process in order to ensure that parents and students receive clear information concerning the process and to facilitate smooth transitions from KCPS to accredited schools.

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