KC Schools Get Provisional Accreditation Restored
August 6, 2014

The Missouri Board of Education removed the Kansas City Schools from the unaccredited list Wednesday.
The board, I’m a unanimous vote, gave the district provisonal accredit ion.
Officials at the Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education ( DESE) said Kansas City had made enough improvement to regain provisional accreditation, but more work needs to be done.
Officials note some improvement in area like English Language Arts, Math and Science over the last two years.
But DESE also told the Bjard they were hoping for
More “student achievement t progress”.
Board President Peter Herschend warned Kansas City still had lots of progress to make, especially over the Cong school year.
Herschend warned without that progress the district’s accreditation could be in jeopardy once again
The news comes as the Kansas City district prepares to start the 2014-15 school in in a few days.

Student Transfer Reforms Clear Senate
February 27, 2014

(AP) – Students at troubled Missouri schools could switch to nearby quality schools or choose a private school at local taxpayers’ expense under legislation the Senate passed Thursday.

The legislation overhauls a student transfer law dating to 1993 that has led to recent financial problems for unaccredited districts that currently must pay for students who want to attend better-performing schools in other districts.

Under the Senate legislation, individual schools would be accredited along with entire districts. Students who attend a struggling school could move to a better one within their home district. Transferring out of a school district would remain an option, but only for students who would attend a failing school within an unaccredited school district and who cannot move to a higher-performing school there. There would be a 12-month residency requirement for students to transfer.

“We are giving those students a choice,” said Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, a Democrat from St. Louis County.

Addressing transfers and unaccredited school districts has received significant attention this year, and the Senate spent much of its time this week debating the bill.
In a statement, Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro said, “”We look forward to working with the Missouri House and Senate as the legislature addresses this critical issue.”

Senators approved the measure 27-5. It now moves to the House, where an education committee was considering separate proposals Thursday.
Flur lf the five botes against the plan came from Kansas City area Senators, Democrats Paul LeVota, Jolie Justus and Jason Holsman and Lee’s Summit Republican Will Kraus.
Supporters of the Senate bill said additional work would be needed

Schweich to Exam CEE-Trust School Reform Contract
January 16, 2014

(AP) – The Missouri auditor’s office will review how state education officials awarded a contract to a consulting firm to suggest ways to improve schools in Kansas City and other unaccredited districts.

The Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust was hired last year and presented its proposal this week to the State Board of Education.

Some legislators and community groups leveled criticism after emails raised questions about the bidding process. One complaint was that CEE-Trust’s bid was nearly three times higher than that of a competitor.

Deputy State Auditor Harry Otto said Wednesday the office decided a limited review of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was warranted based on documents provided by the agency. The auditor requested documents in December related to the contract and to a proposed ballot measure on teacher tenure.

Missouri Auditor Asks for DESE Records on KC Student Transfer
December 14, 2013

Post- Dispatch:
Missouri Auditor Thomas Schweich is weighing whether to launch an audit of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in light of recent controversies involving the education commissioner.
Schweich sent a letter to Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro this week stating his office is considering a probe into the very issues that have triggered calls for her resignation from teachers unions, more than a dozen lawmakers and even the St. Louis County Branch of the NAACP.

Schweich is requesting department documents relating to the development of a plan calling for a new statewide district for underperforming schools, which Nicastro is expected to unveil in January. He wants records concerning the process by which the department procured a contract with CEE-Trust — Cities for Educational Entrepreneurship — an Indianapolis-based firm that’s drafting an improvement plan for Kansas City Public Schools. Schweich also has requested any internal and external communications concerning the proposed constitutional amendment that would eliminate teacher tenure.

KC Lawmakers Ask for Nixon & Koster to Investigate Nicastro, DESE & KC School Reform Plan
December 11, 2013

A group of Kansas City lawmakers, leader by Assistant Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty want the Governor and Attorney General Chris Koster to investigate how a plan to reform the Kansas City school district came into being.
“Commissioner Nicastro’s deceitful and questionable actions, as documented by her own correspondence, raise concerns about her fitness to lead the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education,” the group write in a statement developed by McCann Beatty.
Last week, the Kansas City Star reported in a set of e-mails between Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro and her staff, with the Ewing Kauffman Foundation; the Hall Family Foundation and the Center for Educational Entrepreneurship
The e-mails describe how the two foundations would pay for a nearly $400,000 project to transform and reform the unaccredited district.
Critics say the plan is part of an effort to take over and privatize much of the district.
The e-mails suggest the arrangement went forward without much input from KC School Superintendent Stephen Green. The e-mails also indicate Mayor Sly James’ early awareness of the project was limited, too.
Nicastro and DESE deny that.
The Kansas City legislators say Nicastro was not honest with them.
“Commissioner Nicastro has repeatedly assured lawmakers that no decisions had been made regarding the future of the district, but that apparently is not the case,” the statement reads.
The lust of lawmakers includes many, but not all Kansas City Democratic lawmakers.
Some lawmakers hoped the statement would call for Nicastro to resign as Education Commissioner.
Other lawmakers that signed the statement include St. Sen Kiki Curls; Representatives Randy Dunn (23rd);Brandon Ellington (19th);Jeremy La Faver (25th);Bonnaye Mims (27th);Judy Morgan (24th); John Rizzo (19th).
There is a bill filed in the State Senate that would permit the Senate to be able to dismiss the Education Commissioner with a 2/3rds vote.
Currently, Missouri’s Education Commission is one of two executive posts not appointed by the Governor.
The Commissioner is hired by the state board of education.
The head of the state department of transporting is also appointed by the MoDOT commission.
Earlier this week, Governor Jay Nixon told reporters he thought it might be appropriate to evaluate Nicastro.