Kansas City school board to sue state over accreditation

Friday, December 13, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST

KANSAS CITY — The Kansas City school board will file a lawsuit to stop the state from enforcing a student transfer law while the Kansas City district's case for provisional accreditation is pending, the board's president said Thursday.

Kansas City school board President Airick Leonard West said Thursday at a news conference that the lawsuit is needed to "protect our scholars from chaos," The Kansas City Star reported.

West said the district would seek the injunction Friday because of a Missouri Supreme Court ruling this week that upheld a state law that would allow students in the unaccredited Kansas City district to transfer to any accredited districts in Jackson or adjoining counties. He said the district would ask a Cole County circuit judge to stop enforcement of the transfer law while the district's case for provisional accreditation is still pending.

Kansas City public schools have been unaccredited since 2012, but student transfers have been on hold because of the district's legal challenge. The district has been arguing that it has scored well enough on the state's school district report card in its second year of improvement to have earned provisional accreditation.

If the state were to grant the higher accreditation, the district and its neighboring districts would not be exposed to the transfer law.

Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro has recommended that the Kansas City district remain unaccredited because it needs to demonstrate at least another year of improvement to show it can sustain its gains.

The spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said the department would have to see the lawsuit before it could comment.

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