Normandy School District | St. Louis Public Radio

Normandy School District

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Now that hundreds of students have started their long bus rides from Normandy and Riverview Gardens to accredited districts, can they expect to have greater academic success in their new schools?

Nothing is certain, of course, but educational research – and the long experience the St. Louis area has with the voluntary desegregation transfer plan – suggest that where students attend class can have a definite positive effect on how much they learn.

St. Louis Beacon graphic | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has been working for years to get authority to step in more quickly to help unaccredited school districts.

Now that a newly signed law gives it that power, the state board of education wants to make sure that it uses it in the right way.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Parents and alumni waved signs in the Normandy High School parking lot, welcoming back students like sophomore Bryce Gales-Smith.

“You can’t walk away when it’s at its worst moment, got to help the school get back on its feet,” Gales-Smith says.  “Get back the accreditation.”

But parent, Marla Smith, worries the district might go broke under the weight of transportation and tuition costs.  

“I think our money should stay right here in our neighborhoods,” Gales-Smith says.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: An enthusiastic crowd of school officials and alumni showed up Monday morning to greet students on the first day of classes at Normandy High School, but the good mood was overshadowed somewhat by issues in the back of the minds of school officials and parents alike.

Provided by Susan Uchitelle

Because the St. Louis Metropolitan area did such an outstanding job with its first voluntary student transfer program, fortunately or unfortunately they have now been blessed with a second one.  This transfer program however, entails just two suburban school districts, Normandy and Riverview Gardens, both of which are unaccredited. As a result, their students may transfer to another school district in the region.  2640 students have signed up to transfer.     

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Josh Schindler is an attorney who has been advocating for parents who have fought to pull their children out of the unaccredited Riverview Gardens and Normandy school districts. 

But the plight of homeless students has added another layer to the school transfer debate, he said.

Cast a Line / Flickr

Welcome to our guide to the Missouri school transfers situation. This document will be updated as the news changes and we gather more information.

Have more questions? Tweet us at @stlpublicradio or leave it in the comments below.

Last updated 1/07/14

What is this law?

Will the law be changed?

Which districts are involved in the St. Louis region?

bsabarnowl / Flickr

On Monday, the Ferguson Florissant School District will kick off its academic year and become home to the second most transfer students in the St. Louis region.  

Sitting between the two unaccredited districts in St. Louis County, Riverview Gardens and Normandy, more than 400 transfer students have been placed in the accredited Ferguson Florissant School District, according to the latest numbers released by the Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis, which is coordinating school transfer process.

bsabarnowl / Flickr

On Monday, the Ferguson Florissant School District will kick off its academic year and become home to the second most transfer students in the St. Louis region.  

Sitting between the two unaccredited districts in St. Louis County, Riverview Gardens and Normandy, more than 400 transfer students have been placed in the accredited Ferguson Florissant School District, according to the latest numbers released by the Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis, which is coordinating school transfer process.

(Erin Williams/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated at 4:45 p.m. with comments from Francis Howell Central principal Sonny Arnel. Updated 5:39 p.m. with comments from parents and students.

Some transportation hiccups aside, the first day in the Francis Howell School District in St. Charles County appears to have gone smoothly.

Principal Sonny Arnel
Dale Singer | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: As bright yellow school buses pulled into the parking lot of Francis Howell Central High School on Thursday’s first day of class, the sentiment from students, parent and the principal was the same:

Principal Sonny Arnel said of the transfer students, “You're Spartans, but you're coming from a different situation. What can we do to help you?”

Cast a Line / Flickr

The body charged with placing the thousands of students looking for a better education has released preliminary results of last week's lottery.

The lottery took place after a recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling that upheld a law that says students from unaccredited districts can transfer to accredited districts, paid for by the failing school.

Numbers Released Surrounding School Transfers

Aug 6, 2013
Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

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).

Aligyah Adams and John Mullen
Robert Joiner | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Shante Buggs is a product of the Normandy District, and she intends to keep her two children enrolled there in spite of its loss of accreditation. But she concedes that the issue has caused a little friction in the family.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

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.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

The Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis (CSD) has placed 2,400 of the nearly 2,600 students who have applied to leave the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens School 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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri Education Commissioner Chris L. Nicastro raised questions Friday about the financial survival of the Normandy School District in the wake of the decision by more than a quarter of its students to transfer to schools in accredited districts.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Dear Beaconites --

Three controversies roiled the feelings of St. Louisans this week -- the George Zimmerman verdict in Florida, student transfers in local districts and construction of housing for the elderly poor in Oakville. In each case, the chasms that separated different points of view were so wide that many people could only shout across them.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Just one week after nearly three hours of emotional statements on both sides of the Francis Howell-Normandy transfer issue, the talk at the Howell school board meeting Thursday night turned to calmer, more reflective expressions of cooperation, collaboration – and how the district was going to get paid.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The new superintendent of Normandy schools had a lot of positive things he wanted to talk about Wednesday night, but much of the district’s board meeting was spent trying to counteract something negative – Normandy’s reputation for being unsafe.

Chris McDaniel

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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: If parents who are caught up in the current swirl of controversy over student transfers are looking for someone to blame, Kathleen Brown Sullivan at the University of Missouri-St. Louis says there are plenty of places where fingers should be pointed.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The superintendent of the Francis Howell school district expects to have 600 students transfer there from the unaccredited Normandy district – and if the audience at a packed public forum Thursday night is any indication, those transfers won’t always receive a warm welcome.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Under Missouri's school transfer law, students who live in unaccredited school districts may choose to attend a nearby, accredited district. The sending district must pay the students' tuition and must designate one district to which it will also pay transportation costs. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Dear Beaconites --

News that the Normandy school district will bus students to Francis Howell schools raised a storm of controversy this week. Unless cool heads prevail, it could evolve into a perfect storm -- an ugly convergence of our region's most emotional and intractable problems.

What problems?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: David Glaser wasn’t in St. Louis three decades ago during the height of public opposition to the region’s first interdistrict school desegregation program. He’s learning about some of the old outcry as emotions rise in St. Charles County where the Francis Howell District is preparing to take students wishing to transfer there from Normandy.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Cooperating School Districts will act as a clearinghouse for students who live in Riverview Gardens and Normandy and want to transfer to accredited school districts under a law recently upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri Supreme Court has unanimously rejected a lower court ruling in the St. Louis school transfer case, saying that a St. Louis County circuit judge must once again take up the issue over whether students who live in an unaccredited school district should be able to transfer, with their home district paying the tuition.

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