KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When the Missouri state board of education meets at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in Jefferson City, it will vote whether to restore full accreditation to Kansas City, Missouri, Public Schools.
The district lost accreditation in 2000; the first public school district in the country to do so.
In the years since, it has gained, lost, and regained provisional accreditation, but never received full accreditation.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said its metrics qualify KCPS for full accreditation and it has recommended the board approve the qualification Tuesday.
“I talked about giving people hope when I started [in 2016]. Everything we’ve been doing, people now can say it’s been working. No matter how hard it was, no matter how uncomfortable it made us, it was the right thing to do,” Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell told KSHB 41 News anchor Dia Wall in an exclusive interview.
Bedell will be in Jefferson City for the vote.
Over the past 22 years, high school diplomas from KCPS have still been valid and students were eligible to go on to college.
But the district had to pay tuition for students who transferred to other accredited districts.
Since 2000, KCPS has lost more than half its student population; from roughly 30,000 students in 2000 to 14,000 in 2021. As a result, it has closed and consolidated school buildings.
To regain accreditation, the district had to show consecutive years of meeting or exceeding state standards in a variety of categories from graduation rates to standardized testing.
Bedell admitted work in the district doesn’t stop with regaining accreditation. He hopes to build on the momentum.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. I want our district to be at or above state averages in every measurable outcome. I want us outperforming every urban school district in the United States,” he said. “And we can do it.”
The board of education meets at 8:30 a.m. KCPS plans to hold a news conference in Kansas City at 3 p.m.