MO board takes no action on KC schools' accreditation status - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

State board takes no action on KC schools' accreditation status

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KCPS Superintendent Stephen Green in a district classroom. KCPS Superintendent Stephen Green in a district classroom.
JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KCTV) -

The Missouri Board of Education and the state's attorney general privately discussed Tuesday the Kansas City School District's request to restore its provisional accreditation status.

The district has been unaccredited since Jan. 1. The district fears it will be financially crippled by students seeking to transfer to higher-performing surrounding districts at KCPS's cost.

Hoping to halt any potential transfers this fall, the district asked that the state board bestow temporary provisional accreditation onto the district effective Aug. 8. This is based on state test data that won't be released publicly until the end of August.

District officials are confident that district students have performed well enough on state tests given last spring and in other academic areas that the district will regain provisional accreditation once the data is publicly released.

However, the state board declined to vote on the request following Tuesday's discussion. Board members said they needed to review the data before making a decision.

"We're waiting for the facts, not for what somebody would like to have be the case," said Peter Herschend, president of the state board. Herschend was on the state board when the Kansas City district lost and then regained accreditation nearly 15 years ago.

Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro concurred. She said state officials must "get all the sufficient data about last year's performance," and then have district officials verify the data.

"Nobody has the numbers finished yet. All they have are very, very rough estimates," he said. "We'd be delighted if Kansas City's numbers came in and they were fully accredited. And the reason we would be is that the kids would be getting a better education."

Kansas City school officials say just 24 of the district's 15,200 students applied to transfer during the school year that starts Aug. 11.

If Kansas City gains provisional accreditation after school starts, those transfer students could finish the year at their new schools but could have to return to Kansas City the following year.

The district is offering to drop its litigation over student transfers if the state board grants the district provisional accreditation.

The state board went into closed session Tuesday morning with Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.

KCTV5 objected to the state board's closed session. State board members said they were discussing their request privately because of pending litigation over the student transfers and their costs, and that Koster would give them an update. 

KCTV5 maintains that the Missouri Sunshine Law allows for a narrow discussion of just student transfer litigation but would not allow the state board to discuss student test scores or other student or district performance data in closed session.

After KCTV emailed DESE and Koster's office, the board and Koster ended their private discussions and began to meet again in public Tuesday afternoon.

The state board issued the following statement:

The State Board of Education did not make a decision on Kansas City Public School's (KCPS) request for provisional accreditation today. There is not sufficient data available yet for KCPS to verify that they have earned provisional accreditation. Once the data are available, and the district is able to confirm that they have, in fact, earned such status, the Board will consider their request.

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