The organization overseeing the school transfer process for students in unaccredited districts is still working on placing students Monday. Registration for the lottery ended last week, but Cooperating School Districts is still trying to figure out what to do with those that missed the deadline.
About 2,600 students applied for transfer by last week's deadline, making up roughly a quarter of the student population in the two unaccredited districts.
Most would agree is that the process has been a confusing one for parents -- and as a result, there are some that didn’t meet the deadline.
So what’s to be done with them? Cooperating School District’s Sherrie Wehner said that’s still up in the air.
“What we are doing is keeping a list of all the parents who wish to transfer their kids and did not meet the deadline, and we have asked both Riverview Gardens and Normandy to set up an appeals panel,” Wehner said. "And we are waiting to hear back from both Riverview Gardens and Normandy about setting up an appeals process to give the parents a second chance."
The 20 year old statute that the Missouri Supreme Court upheld in June maintains only that students can transfer out of unaccredited schools to a better school. The Aug. 1 deadline was a guideline from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
As of Monday, CSD officials are still working on placing 300 students wanting to transfer. On Saturday, the districts that will have transportation for Riverview Gardens students became full.
CSD is working on contacting parents of kids who didn’t get their first three choices, to see if there are other districts that would work for them. Parents would have to pay for the transportation.
CSD’s Sherrie Wehner admits it is a fast turnaround for parents -- many of whom don’t have a computer or Internet access.
“You see, on the one hand, we’re trying to give the parents enough time to think through this, and on the other hand, we’re trying to give the school districts enough time to be able to handle the enrollment and registration of all these extra kids,” Wehner said.
Some schools start as early as next week. The 2,400 students who did receive a slot in the lottery over the weekend should get a phone call from the receiving district soon.
ACLU Raises Legal Concerns
It is unconstitutional for any accredited school district to turn away students wishing to transfer from an unaccredited district, according to a letter issued on Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri that was addressed to the superintendents of Kirkwood and Mehlville school districts.
Both Kirkwood and Mehlville were the transportation options for students attending the unaccredited Riverview Gardens School District, but say they do not have enough space to fulfill all of the transfer students.
- Click here to read a copy of the letter sent to Mehlville Superintendent Eric Knost
- Click here to read a copy of the letter Kirkwood Superintendent Tom Williams
Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of ACLU of Eastern Missouri says after a review of both the state statue and legal precedents, there is no legal basis for an accredited district to turn away a student from an unaccredited school system.
“At the end of the process when the first day of school starts, if there are parents who are left without the option to attend a school they have selected that is accredited, that would be problematic,” Mittman says.
Mittman says it’s too soon to predict whether the ACLU will take any sort of legal action, and he says he respects the logistical problems associated with carrying out the transfer process.
In separate statements, superintends for Kirkwood and Mehlville indicated that during the transfer process they have followed guidelines issued by the Missouri Department of Secondary and Elementary Education.
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