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Software Glitch Frustrates Parents Trying To Enroll Children In Kansas City Public Schools

Elle Moxley
KCUR 89.3
Parents line up to enroll their children for the 2018-19 school year. The online application for the 2019-20 school year opened Tuesday.

A software glitch in the Kansas City Public Schools online application made it hard for some families to enroll Tuesday.

Because the district fills seats at its signature schools in the order applications are received, some parents were online at 6 a.m. when the application opened to ensure their child would get into a preferred school next year. Juanita, whose last name KCUR is not using because she is undocumented, was one of those parents.

Credit Kansas City Public Schools
Enrollment for the 2019-20 school year began today in the Kansas City Public Schools.

“We still can’t get my daughter enrolled at Lincoln (College Preparatory Academy),” Juanita said in Spanish when reached by phone at noon on Tuesday.

KCPS spokesman Ray Weikal said the problems with the application had been fixed by Tuesday afternoon, and the district would be able to see where families got stuck in and honor their place in line.

“As a system, we are very apologetic that this happened this morning because we do recognize that for many of our families, it was an extremely stressful situation to be placed in,” Weikal said.

The district has bilingual enrollment specialists, but Juanita reached out to Show Me KC Schools for help filling out the online application. Director of Programs Leslie Kohlmeyer said she was starting to get frustrated, too.

“Those parents that have needs language-wise – and we have a huge refugee population in Kansas City – had issues beyond what an English-speaking family would have experienced today,” Kohlmeyer said.

For her part, Juanita said navigating school choice in Kansas City as a non-native English speaker hasn’t been easy.

“I had to look and ask, ‘Why do your kids go to that school when you live here?’” Juanita said, which is how she learned she would need to apply to send her daughter to Lincoln. “What you hear is that you have to go to the school close to your house, but in reality, you have other options.”

Parents experiencing problems with the KCPS online application should call 816-418-7888.

Elle Moxley covers education for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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