Parents Look for a Way Out of Kansas City School District

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Kansas City School District took its case to the people Wednesday evening, urging a packed house to rally around schools that have been abandoned too many times in the past.

While many in the crowd joined in support, it was apparent by the number of questions about a chance to change districts that many parents also are eyeing a way out.

Parents plotting an escape from the district may think their day comes Jan. 1 ? when the district loses accreditation and triggers a law allowing transfers.

But the real day to circle on their calendars may be Jan. 23. That?s when a St. Louis County circuit courtroom is scheduled to take up the matter of Turner v. Clayton School District.

It?s a good bet that few if any students will be moving between any districts before then.

That court case now carries the weighty fortunes of school districts that would receive students ? districts that want to preserve their ability to control the number of students entering their doors.

The case likewise will reveal the fate of the unaccredited districts, including St. Louis and Kansas City, which could incur financial disaster if they have to pay transportation and tuition for too many departing students.

There?s also the possibility of a legislative fix, but attempts during the last session ran aground as traditional-minded education forces got into a tug-of-war with reform-minded forces.

Count Keith Phillips as one of the parents who want everyone to stay in Kansas City.

?I believe this can work,? said the 51-year-old father of a Holliday Montessori fifth-grader. ?I don?t believe people should bail out.?

But it?s not so easy staying, countered 24-year-old Cynara Lacy, whose stepson attends Lincoln College Prep. She and her husband have already started calling on other districts and are frustrated to be in a holding pattern while the law is in limbo.

?If you had a child, would you want to keep him in an unaccredited school district?? Lacy asked.

The Independence School District reports receiving ?scores? of calls from Kansas City parents asking about enrollment. Some have even showed up at district offices and schools.

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