In a closed session Wednesday evening, the Ferguson-Florissant School Board voted to accept students from the new, state run Normandy Schools Collaborative (NSC). The board had previously voted not to accept students from NSC, which began operations in July.
In order to return to the district, students must have submitted an “Intent to Return” form by Feb. 1 and already have completed the registration and enrollment requirements.
When the state took over the unaccredited Normandy School District this summer, it sought to curtail student transfers which drove the north St. Louis County school system to the edge of bankruptcy. At the time, state officials said the district would have no accreditation status for three years. The minutes from that meeting were later amended to read that the district would be accredited as a state oversight district.
The transfer law allows students living within the boundaries of an unaccredited district to transfer to an accredited district in the same or adjoining county.
Under state guidelines, NSC students who transferred during the 2013-14 school year could continue to transfer only if a receiving district’s board voted to accept transfer students at the tuition rate of about $7,200. The tuition amount is less than what any of the receiving districts charged. Ferguson-Florissant will charge its full tuition rate of $10,650 for each student who transfers, according to a district press release.
The decision to accept Normandy transfers comes on the heels of a ruling earlier this month by St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Michael Burton in favor of three families of transfer students who challenged whether the state could limit transfers. And after a hearing last week, Burton reopened the transfer process for 13 more Normandy students, two of whom wanted to return to Ferguson-Florissant. Last night's decision could open up the transfer process to 58 Normandy students.
Last week, Joshua Schindler -- the lawyer who has represented the plaintiffs in the case – told St. Louis Public Radio that he plans to bring more lawsuits, either on behalf of small groups of students or perhaps as a class action.
“You heard the judge,” Schindler told St. Louis Public Radio last week. “He said the scales did not just tip a little bit, but the scales were heavily in favor of the plaintiffs we need to get this issue resolved.”
In contrast, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) said after last week’s ruling that NSC could not sustain the financial burden of student transfers.
“The current plan reflects the only feasible way to make significant improvements and stabilize district finances,” according to a statement from DESE. “It is clear that Normandy cannot continue transfers as it did last year and remain fiscally solvent."