Tougher school accreditation law takes effect Jan. 1

St. Louis – A new law is aimed at keeping Missouri school districts from going back and forth between unaccredited and provisionally accredited status.

As it stands, districts have two years to regain accreditation, even if they've lost it several times before. But starting Friday, districts will no longer get that two year grace period if they've slipped back into unaccredited status.

State Education department spokesman Jim Morris said the Wellston school district in suburban St. Louis is an example of what was happening.

"You had a situation there where a school district was vacillating between just barely good enough to meet provisional accreditation standards or not, and the concern was that a district could conceivably repeat that cycle over and over," Morris said.

The state board of education voted this month to close the Wellston District at the end of the school year and move its students to the Normandy Schools.

Morris said there are nine provisionally accredited districts in Missouri and two unaccredited districts: St. Louis city and Riverview Gardens.