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Is a Jackson County school district dodging its mandate to serve homeless students?

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A yellow school bus moves in front of a building that has a sign: Welcome Inn on it. The school bus has "Blue Springs School District" printed on its side.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
A Blue Springs School District school bus pulls out of a vacant parking lot near the Welcome Inn on Jefferson Road in Blue Springs on Nov. 16, 2022. The motel is where several unhoused students get picked up for school each day.

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act mandates that school district provide services to help unhoused kids stay in school. But experts worry that the Blue Springs School District is undercounting homeless students.

As part of a collaboration headed by the Center for Public Integrity, KCUR reporter Jodi Fortino and contributor Barbara Shelly dug into the data of how school districts recognize, count and assist children without a permanent address.

What they found was that while most Kansas City-area districts take that role seriously, the Blue Springs School District may be undercounting its unhoused kids — and failing to provide them critical services.

Fortino and Shelly will continue looking into other districts in the area — including some with innovative programs that are succeeding at keeping kids in school.

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