Wed August 7, 2013
Data From School Transfer Lottery Released, As Groups Question Legality Of Process
The body charged with placing the thousands of students looking for a better education has released preliminary results of last week's lottery.
The lottery took place after a recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling that upheld a law that says students from unaccredited districts can transfer to accredited districts, paid for by the failing school.
Two North St. Louis County districts - Normandy and Riverview Gardens - will have to pay what is estimated to be more than $35 million to districts like Francis Howell, Mehlville and Kirkwood, which were selected as receiving districts.
Below, you can see the results from the lottery, and compare that to which districts parents were hoping to get.
Kirkwood and Mehlville (which Riverview Gardens selected as districts that it would pay for transportation to) received applications for more than 775 students. They ended up receiving only 352, saying they just didn't have the room.
The districts that the unaccredited districts selected are important. The unaccredited districts will pay for tuition regardless of where the student wishes to transfer, but Normandy and Riverview Gardens will only pay for transportation for a few districts. Normandy selected Francis Howell, a district with ample room that was able to accept all of the willing transfers. Riverview Gardens, on the other hand, selected two districts with limited space. When Mehlville and Kirkwood stated that they couldn't accept all applicants, Riverview Gardens declined to select a third district with transportation provided.
As a result, there are two possible lawsuits. The ACLU of Eastern Missouri sent a letter to Mehlville and Kirkwood, advising them that it is unconstitutional for any accredited school district to turn away students wishing to transfer from an unaccredited district.
Concurrently, the Children's Education Alliance of Missouri announced legal retaliation on Thursday if a resolution isn't reached with Mehlville and three Riverview Gardens parents who were left out of the lottery. Those parents could elect to have their child enrolled in another adjacent district, but they would have to pay for transportation. More than 92 percent of Riverview Gardens students are on a free or reduced lunch program.
On the district's Facebook page, Mehlville Superintendent Eric Knost wrote:
"We continue to work to comply with the student transfers to the best of our ability on such short notice while keeping the best interests of all students in mind."
There are many who would agree that the statute is vague. It states that students can transfer out of unaccredited districts to accredited districts. The deadlines and lottery process were not set up in the statute, but rather by Missouri Department of Education guidelines. Those guidelines will come under much scrutiny in the coming weeks.
St. Louis on the Air
Francis Howell/Normandy Busing