Rhonda Dunham eases her way through the halls at Franklin Elementary School in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Back in the day she was a student at Franklin.
Now she is the principal.
It’s quiet as Dunham strolls through the new, two-year-old facility. Very quiet. Most of the students are in their classrooms, studying away. Dunham slides up next to a pair of students who are taking a test in the hallway to see check their progress.
After telegraphing his intention for a week, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday announced that he is indeed going to veto the student-transfer bill because of its provisions allowing public money to be used for private schools.
He also faults the bill because it does not require unaccredited sending districts to pay any transportation costs for students transferring to accredited districts, as the schools now are required to do.
Missouri education officials, who control the finances of the Normandy school district, say they won’t pay the costs of a lawsuit that asks the courts to take another look at the student transfer case.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in St. Louis County Circuit Court, wants a reconsideration of two issues the Missouri Supreme Court rejected in its unanimous decision last year that set in motion the student transfers: unfunded mandates and the impossibility to comply with the transfer law.
It’s just after 7 a.m., and SheRon Chaney already has her family packed into an SUV and ready for school.
“On a good day like today, I’m hoping it only takes about 35 minutes,” she said.
Leave just a touch later and they could be stuck in traffic for more than an hour. It’s a quirk of St. Louis' commuter culture that Chaney picked up when she decided to transfer her seventh-grade daughter, BrenNae, out of the Normandy School District in favor of Maplewood Richmond Heights.
One day after the Missouri Board of Education voted to replace the Normandy school district with a new, state-controlled entity, Normandy filed suit challenging the law that lets students transfer from unaccredited districts.
Recent national data indicate that schools are becoming resegregated and African Americans are less likely to be in integrated schools. That is why the continuation of the recent student transfer plan is so important.
The Missouri Legislature just passed a new complex, comprehensive student transfer bill, which unfortunately has so many flaws that it is likely to be vetoed by the governor. Should that be the case, the current transfer program for students from Normandy and Riverview Gardens will remain in existence until a reasonable alternative becomes law.
The Normandy School District will cease to exist on July 1 and will be replaced by a new identity. Questions remain on what this will mean for transfer students, teacher and administrators, and board members.
COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Missouri Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to replace the Normandy School District with a new entity with the same boundaries but run by an appointed board, effective July 1.