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Spelling-Bee-Mistake 03-24

Other schools got chance to fix error that’s keeping Mo. girl out of National Spelling Bee

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 12-year-old girl is being kept out of the Scripps National Spelling Bee because of one word — "district" — and not because she got it wrong.

Morgan Brown’s school district north of Kansas City incorrectly registered its students by district rather than by school, said Paige Kimble, the spelling bee’s director.

A "couple of hundred" schools made the same mistake, but the organization was able to give most of them to chance to correct the error by conducting a database search for the word "district" in the applications, Kimble said. The North Platte R-1 School District, however, listed itself only as North Platte R-1.

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

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

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.

North Platte Superintendent Francis Moran said he hopes to work something out 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’s parents already have spent $1,000 on plane tickets to attend the May competition in Washington, D.C., 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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