Eastern Jackson County districts are bracing for an influx of extra students next school year if families from the Kansas City Public Schools district decide to enroll their children to attend a nearby accredited school.
According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education guidelines, school districts should adopt and publish a policy for class size and student-teacher ratios by Jan. 15. The criteria in developing this policy should align with the MSIP 5 Standards, according to DESE in a document pertaining to transfer guidance.
As reported earlier this month, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld a law that allows students from the unaccredited Kansas City district to attend accredited, neighboring schools, including those in the Blue Springs, Independence or Lee’s Summit districts.
Unless an alternative is reached by the first day of school this upcoming August, area districts can expect more than a thousand more students added to their classrooms. Efforts to thwart the Supreme court ruling from both the education and legislative levels have already been implemented. The New Path to Excellence alternative plan devised by local superintendents to place focus on individual, unaccredited schools rather than the entire district, a recent lawsuit filed by Kansas City schools to regain accredition and even a bill proposed by State Sen. Paul LeVota where districts would not be required to accept transfer students once a district’s classroom reaches a desirable size are just some efforts to counter the ruling.
Below are some of the requirements and regulations recommended by DESE on how accredited districts should enroll incoming students from unaccredited schools:
• In order for a student of an unaccredited school to enroll at an accredited school, the student must reside in an unaccredited district.
• Parents are encouraged to notify both their unaccredited school district they currently reside in and the accredited district they intend to have their child enrolled by Feb. 1.
• Accredited districts within the county that are eligible to receive students from unaccredited schools should post a student transfer application, their admissions process and the available enrollment slots by grade level on their website.
• If a school district chosen by parents or guardians of students from an unaccredited school has reached student capacity, then the accredited district should institute a process to ensure all applicants an equal chance of admission – except that a district may give preference for admission to siblings of children who are enrolled in the same district.
• Parents and guardians may apply for a specfic building assignment, but the final assignment will ultimately be determined by the receiving school district.
• In the event that an assigned district has reached capacity, and additional receiving district will be designated.
• If the Kansas City School District regains accreditation during the school year when a student has been transferred to a nearby accredited district, students should be allowed to finish the year at that school.
• The sending district must provide transportation to at least one accredited/receiving school district. If a parent or guardian choose to enroll their student(s) in a different accredited school, then they are responsible in providing their own transportation. (It is unclear whether KCPS will provide transportation to only one district or accomodate those students who are enrolled in a number of eligible, receiving districts.)
• Sending districts will be liable to cover the tuition of students transferring to accredited/receiving districts. However, the district cannot be charged until their students have been enrolled and attends class in the receiving district. The cost of tuition is based on the number of actual hours a transferred student attends at the accredited district.
• Transferred students will be considered as Resident II (or non-residents within the receiving district).
• Parents or guardians of a disabled student in an unaccredited district may choose to transfer their child to an accredited district. However, special education services for transfer students from unaccredited districts not in St. Louis County would be the responsibility of the receiving district.
• Parents or guardians with a student enrolled in an unaccredited district’s early childhood special education service have no basis in requesting a transfer.