CONTACT:  Michele Clark
Communications Coordinator

Vol. 46, No. 14
February 21, 2012

State Board Supports Accreditation Legislation

The Missouri State Board of Education is supporting legislation currently making its way through the House and Senate that would modify state law to provide more flexibility in interventions for districts that have lost accreditation.

The Board is responsible for administering the classification system for public school districts.  The Board has long encountered significant limitations within the existing law to effectively intervene with failing school districts on behalf of its students.  Concerns with the current law have become more critical with the recent reclassification of the Kansas City Public Schools to unaccredited status.

Under current state law (Section 162.081), an unaccredited school district has two full school years to demonstrate a sustainable level of academic progress.  Should this not occur, the district would lapse, and the state would then be able to step in with a short list of interventions now prescribed in the law.

“It is critical that the law be changed to authorize the State Board to act in a more responsive and timely manner in carrying out its duties,” said State Board President Peter F. Herschend.  “We urge the legislature to enact the bill with the emergency clause in place and with no crippling amendments.”

Legislation that would modify the law regarding school accreditation for failing school districts appears to have strong support in both House and Senate chambers.  Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro recently testified before the House and Senate Education committees in support of HB 1174 and SB 677.  The Senate bill is identical to HCS HB 1174, which received approval on Monday in the Rules Committee and is expected to advance to the House floor soon.

In her testimony, Nicastro pointed out that changes in the law being proposed would allow the State Board to adjust the level and timing of state intervention based upon the most effective action for the students in that district.

Three of Missouri’s 522 school districts are currently unaccredited.  The St. Louis and Riverview Gardens school districts have been unaccredited since June 2007.  Both districts have lapsed and are now under the direction of a state-appointed special administrative board.  Kansas City Public Schools became unaccredited effective January 1 this year.