Thousands of students are fleeing two failing North St. Louis County school districts, following a recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling that unaccredited schools will have to pay for students hoping for an education at an accredited school.
The past month has been confusing and arduous for both parents and the organizational body now charged with placing those students, Cooperating School Districts (CSD).
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.
All Normandy students who applied to go to Francis Howell were placed, and will receive transportation paid for by the unaccredited district.
But many Riverview Gardens students who applied to transfer to Kirkwood or Mehlville, the transportation options for that district, did not receive spots because the receiving districts ran out of room.
North St. Louis County's Normandy School District pointed to a variety of things to entice parents to keep their kids in the district: partnerships and collaboration with nearby universities, new technology, and more staff training.
But for the parents of 1,151 Normandy kids, it just wasn’t enough. If you compare it to last year’s enrollment, that means 28 percent will be fleeing the failing school district.
The Missouri Supreme Court’s ruling on Breitenfeld v. School District of Clayton on June 11 reversed a lower court decision and found that state statute 167.131does not violate the Hancock Amendment. The statute provides that an unaccredited school district must pay tuition for students to attend school in another accredited district in the same or an adjoining county.
The Francis Howell School district is scrambling to accommodate St. Louis County's Normandy School students after a recent State Supreme Court ruling that students from unaccredited schools can be bussed to accredited schools in the same or adjacent counties.
Nearly three thousand parents attended a Francis Howell forum Thursday night to voice their concerns.
For almost three hours, parents raised a variety of issues - how it'll be paid for, how it will impact test scores and accreditation - but there was one concern that dwarfed all the others: security.
Normandy schools had been under provisional accreditation for the past year, but had been “on thin ice,” in the words of State Board Member Peter Herschend (R, Branson). He says the district has again failed to meet the minimum nine out of 14 performance standards required for accreditation.
“If you look at the academic results in all of the core content areas, save one, they are at the bottom end of attainment," Herschend said. "Do I think that’s significant? You’re damn right I think that’s significant!”
Normandy may retain that status for up to a year -- however, the State Board could also choose to revoke the provisional accreditation entirely at any time during the next year. State Board Member Peter Herschend says Normandy schools are improving, but not enough to warrant full accreditation.