Error keeping girl out of spelling bee was made by many

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A national spelling bee director says a "couple of hundred" school districts made the same paperwork mistake that's keeping a Kansas City-area girl from competing, according to the Kansas City Star.

Most of those districts, which mistakenly registered their students by district rather than school, were given the chance to correct the error and reapply last fall for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

But North Platte, where 12-year-old Morgan Brown is a student, will not get that chance, Paige Kimble, director of the national spelling bee, told The Kansas City Star.

"The overwhelming majority of schools got it and did it right," Kimble said.

This year, the competition required individual schools, rather than school districts, to fill out the applications for their students. Despite several warnings about the change in the application process, Kimble said that a "couple of hundred" applications were submitted incorrectly.

Kimble said two and possibly three other districts are facing the same situation.

"It's not Scripps' responsibility to ensure student eligibility," Kimble said.

North Platte Superintendent Francis Moran said he hopes to work out the situation with bee organizers.

"Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail," he said. "Even if we didn't do the paperwork correctly, you certainly don't punish the girl."

Morgan, who attends North Platte Junior High in Dearborn, was told last week that she may not be able to compete despite being the regional spelling bee champion from northwest Missouri. Her parents already have spent $1,000 on plane tickets to attend the competition, and she had been working with a coach twice a week to prepare.

"I was devastated for a moment," she said. "Then I thought, 'There's always next year."'

She said she is still holding out hope that she can compete.

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