As legal efforts continue to open the Francis Howell school district to students who want to transfer from Normandy, a new policy shift has increased the pool of students able to transfer to any local accredited district.
The move raises new concerns about the financial survival of Normandy, which was taken over by the state after transfer costs drove it to the brink of bankruptcy last school year.
The superintendent of the Francis Howell school district says that if court rulings continue to favor transfers from the new Normandy Schools Collaborative, as many as 350 students could end up returning to Francis Howell.
Last year, Howell ended the year with 430 students who had transferred under the law that says students living in an unaccredited school district can transfer to nearby accredited districts. Normandy had designated Francis Howell as the district to which it would pay tuition, so most students who left Normandy transferred there.
Missouri education officials now say they will pay whatever tuition a receiving district charges for transfer students from Normandy, rather than a lower amount imposed earlier, raising new concerns about the state-run district's ability to survive financially.
While St. Louis Public Schools and Riverview Gardens have made solid gains in their push toward accreditation, Normandy finds itself in a deeper hole, earning just 7.1 percent of the possible points in Missouri’s latest list of school report cards released Friday.
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.
After a hearing in St. Louis County Circuit Court Wednesday, Judge Michael Burton cleared the way for 13 more students to transfer out of the Normandy school district.
Burton had ruled last week that the Missouri state school board had acted improperly when it made changes that exempted students who live in Normandy from the benefits of Missouri’s school transfer law. As a result, he said, Normandy’s status should remain as unaccredited, and students should have the right to transfer to nearby accredited schools.
A lawyer who won the right for five students who live in Normandy to transfer again to an accredited school went to court Tuesday to force the Francis Howell school district to accept all Normandy transfers who want to return.
It also asks that two students who attended Ferguson-Florissant last year be allowed to return.
(Updated at 9:19 p.m. Monday with latest cancellation in Ferguson-Florissant)
With adults cheering them on and the aftermath of violent protest just a few miles away, students began classes Monday in the new Normandy Schools Collaborative, hoping to put drama behind them and keep their sights on success.
“It’s nice to have a welcome back party for Normandy,” senior Breonia Gregory said as she walked through the parking lot toward the high school. “We’ve been through a lot. It’s nice to have something like this positive feedback from the community.”
A St. Louis County Circuit judge ruled Friday that students from three families living in the Normandy school district have the right to transfer to nearby accredited districts.
Those districts – Pattonville, Ritenour and Ferguson-Florissant – had denied the students access in the new school year, even though they had transferred to schools in those districts in the last school year. But the families argued successfully that the state had improperly given the new Normandy Schools Collaborative a status that freed it from the requirements of the Missouri transfer law.