Superintendent's Blog: Student transfers on hold in Kansas City area

Student transfers on hold in Kansas City area
In its June 11, 2013, opinion, the Missouri Supreme Court held that RSMo. 167.131 does not violate the Hancock Amendment in that the requirements imposed by the statute do not constitute a “new” mandate.  While the Court acknowledges an expansion of mandated services, in its opinion, local school districts are not protected from a shifting of the local burden of educating students from one district to another under the Hancock parameters.

It is important to note that the Supreme Court’s ruling only applies to the Clayton and St. Louis School Districts, litigants in the case formally known as Breitenfeld  v. School District of Clayton, et al. and State of Missouri.  The ruling does not apply to the Kansas City area accredited school districts.  In the case of the Kansas City area districts (Lee’s Summit R-7, North Kansas City, Raytown, Blue Springs and Independence), there are distinctly different arguments related to increased costs with no state appropriation identified.

Not only does the recent Supreme Court ruling in the St. Louis case not mean that Kansas City area districts are to begin taking student transfers, but currently several of the districts (including Lee's Summit R-7) have a favorable ruling at the Circuit Court and are awaiting our case to be heard by the Missouri Supreme Court.  We continue to have a solid basis for denying admission to students who reside in the Kansas City School District due to pending litigation.

In our case, the State through its witnesses 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 Kansas City area accredited school districts would not receive any specific funding directly from the State to finance the costs associated with admitting and educating Kansas City Public School students.  We believe, and were affirmed by the Circuit Court, that this mandate imposes new costs on our districts and does violate the Hancock Amendment and that our argument deserves vetting independent from the ruling in the St. Louis case. 

While the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Breitenfeld case has created some confusion in the Kansas City area related to this issue, which was recently exacerbated by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s release of "Guidance for Student Transfers from Unaccredited School Districts to Accredited School Districts," the reality is that transfers are on hold in our area while ongoing litigation occurs.  I will continue to keep you informed regarding this situation in the weeks and months to come as we work to protect your tax dollars and ensure that the resources you have provided the district as a tax payer are used to educate eligible resident students.  Thanks for all you do for the children!

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