For Immediate Release:
Jan. 23, 2013

Contact: Sheron Fulson
(573) 751-3158

Sen. Curls Questions Education Officials About Accreditation Issues

JEFFERSON CITY — Senator Shalonn “Kiki” Curls, D-Kansas City, today questioned Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro and other state education officials about the implications of Senate Bill 7, which removes the two-year waiting period that begins when a school district loses its accreditation before the State Board of Education can intervene.  SB 7, sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chairman David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, is substantially similar to legislation that received unanimous Senate approval last year.  That bill died on the last day of session last year when House leaders refused to approve it unless the Senate passed a teacher tenure bill that did not have widespread support in the Senate.

SB 7 requires the Department of Education to conduct at least two public hearings regarding the accreditation status of a school district, and the hearings must consider community resources that could be utilized in helping the school district regain accreditation.

“Whatever process we choose for helping a school district like Kansas City regain accreditation, I believe the focus must be on what’s best for the students,” Sen. Curls said.  “What is most important to me is academic achievement, not who is governing the district.”

When it classifies a district as unaccredited, the State Board of Education may allow continued governance by the existing local board of education. If the State Board appoints a special administrative board to oversee the district, the board must consist of at least five members, with the majority being district residents. In addition, the board members must reflect the population characteristics of the district and collectively possess strong experience in school governance, management and finance, and leadership. A special administrative board will be responsible for the operation of the district until it is classified as provisionally accredited for two successive school years, at which time the State Board of Education may provide for a transition back to local governance.

The Kansas City School District lost its accreditation Jan. 1, 2012.  Under current state law, the State Board of Education cannot intervene until June 30, 2014.  Sen. Curls says the two-year waiting period leaves thousands of students in limbo.

“When a school district loses its accreditation, it’s obvious there are a number of problems that need to be addressed immediately,” Sen. Curls said.  “It’s not fair to students who are currently attending a school to tell them that the state is going to wait two years before it steps in to correct the situation.”
Still, Sen. Curls acknowledged it will take time to correct problems that have plagued the Kansas City School District for decades.  She asked Commissioner Nicastro how close the Kansas City School District was to regaining accreditation and the answer was, “Not close.”