School Transfers

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?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Everyone knows the old adage, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” However, the Missouri Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the school transfer law has proven that it is quite possible to displease people on all sides of an issue at the same time.

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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: I’m not sure which is making my own skin crawl more, the unveiled racist talk of white parents afraid of what weapon-wielding and drug-transporting black kids will do to property values, or the creepy pity expressed by white parents who say they want to wrap their arms around poor black children who have to get on buses before daylight to get themselves a decent education. Ugh.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Even though classes start Monday for the Riverview Gardens School District, as of Friday morning Micah Pope hadn’t gotten in to any of the districts where she wanted to transfer. So her mother planned to keep the eighth-grader home rather than have her go back to a school she thinks is inadequate.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: For some parents in the Riverview Gardens District, the transfer law is turning out to be an illusion, promising access to better education for their children but offering no space or free transportation to accredited schools on their radar. Yet, for others like parents Orney and Corie Walker, the law is a godsend.

(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.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Just weeks away from its implementation, the Kirkwood School District held an informational meeting Tuesday night to answer questions from parents and residents about the school transfer process.

The basic message from speakers was this: The system is flawed, the law is broken, there wasn’t nearly enough planning, the legislature is dysfunctional, and what happens if we get sued?  But we need to do everything in our power to make sure the incoming students get the best possible education we can provide.

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).

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Three parents in Riverview Gardens say they will file suit against the Mehlville School District Thursday afternoon unless Mehlville drops its limits on how many transfer students it will accept.

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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri has advised the superintendents of the Kirkwood and Mehlville schools that they have no legal basis to turn away any transfer students on the basis of class size or available space.

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.

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.

Brent Jones | St. Louis Beacon Data is as of Tuesday, 7/30/13

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Mehlville School District is so far the first choice of more than 600 students seeking to transfer from the unaccredited Riverview Gardens School District.

Information from DESE, graphics by Brent Jones | St. Louis Beacon

The article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: After the Mehlville School District said that it could accept only 150 transfer students from the unaccredited Riverview Gardens School District, Riverview Gardens added the Kirkwood School District as the second district for which it would pay transportation. Subsequently Kirkwood has said on its website that it could only accept 100 students.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The person who answered the phones for the Riverview Gardens School District was quite busy Wednesday morning. Phone calls are so plentiful that she cannot answer them all. Most of the calls apparently came from residents wanting confirmation that students could apply to Kirkwood School District this fall.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: At the start of a new statewide tour, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon gave two more reasons – the state’s credit rating and school funding -- that he says make his veto of the tax-cut measure, HB 253, the right thing to do.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Mehlville School District has room to accept only one out of three of the 450 students from Riverview Gardens who have said – so far – that they want to transfer there, Mehlville Superintendent Eric Knost told a school board meeting Thursday night.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

Every week, St. Louis Public Radio’s Chris McDaniel joins the St. Louis Beacon’s Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum to talk about the week’s politics.

 

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

Every week, St. Louis Public Radio’s Chris McDaniel joins the St. Louis Beacon’s Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum to talk about the week’s politics.

On this week's show: Missouri Senator Scott Rupp (R-Lincoln) joins the trio to discuss Normandy students busing to Francis Howell. Rupp was also an architect of the lauded Second Injury Fund fix, and talks about how it came to be.

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

Expect to see a lot of ads leading up to September, paid for largely by one man. Libertarian Rex Sinquefield has given nearly $2.4 million to groups backing a possible cut to Missouri's income tax.

In response, Democratic Governor Jay Nixon has gone on the offensive, attacking the income tax bill and defending his veto.

Speaking in St. Louis to the Regional Chamber, Nixon said it is a "fiscally irresponsible experiment that didn't work in Kansas and won't work here."

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: For nearly an hour, Kate Casas and others from the Children's Education Alliance of Missouri had answered nuts-and-bolts questions from residents of the Riverview Gardens school district about how students can transfer to accredited schools:

What happens to students who are homeless, or in transition? Is this by lottery, or will our requests for certain district be filled first-come, first-served? How will students who can’t keep up academically get the help they need?

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