The Missouri Court of Appeals' Western Court ruled Tuesday against the Kansas City, Missouri School District, now known as the KCPS.
This decision reversed a previous summary judgment in favor of KCPS and against several state boards and charter schools.
According to the court documents, the school district was awarded a "judgment for breach of contract" in the amount of $6,162,011 and a state agency was ordered "to recoup money diverted to charter schools" plus 9% interest. It was concluded Tuesday that "the trial court erroneously declared and applied the law."
At issue in the ruling was money diverted from Kansas City charter schools starting in 1999 when they opened and began luring students from the district. That money was used to help the Kansas City district pay off bonds that funded school construction and renovations mandated by a desegregation case. The withholdings temporarily stopped in 2005 after a state commission found the district didn't need the money to pay off the bonds. A federal judge ruled in 2006 that the withholdings could resume. The litigation centered on the $6.2 million the district was unable to collect over that one-year span.
Douglas Thaman, executive director of the Missouri Charter School Assocation, says after seven years, he's "pleased and hopeful" to see the end of this case.
"After seven years and legal fees that have been extremely costly both to the charter schools as well as, I'm sure to the district (KCPS), (I) just really believe that it's time to bring this issue to closure and back to focus on educating children," says Thaman.
UPDATE: Kansas City Public Schools issued this release:
The Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) is making a thoughtful and careful analysis of today’s Missouri Appellate Court ruling regarding charter school funding before considering other legal remedies.
The appellate ruling reverses previous decisions by the Cole County Circuit Court to award KCPS more than $16 million reflecting lost funding related to a breach of the federal desegregation agreement by the state and funds that were provided to charter schools. KCPS had alleged the state violated the agreement by giving charter schools desegregation monies to which they were not entitled.
KCPS will now analyze the ruling and determine whether to seek other remedies, including decisions by the Missouri Supreme Court or at the federal court level.
“We respect today’s judgment, but we do not agree with the court’s findings. KCPS will continue to analyze the order in the next several days in order to make a thoughtful and informed decision regarding our next steps,” said Superintendent R. Stephen Green. “As always, we will do what is needed to protect resources needed to support reaccreditation and student achievement.”
Read the court documents here.