As Missouri schools begin preparing for another year of student transfers, the woman who brought the case all the way to the state Supreme Court is at the brink of bankruptcy and wondering where her daughters will get their education this fall.
Gina Breitenfeld is being sued by the Clayton School District for more than $24,000 in unpaid tuition. She says that the financial toll of the case, plus unpleasant comments about the transfers made within earshot of her daughters, prompted her to pull them out of the Clayton schools toward the end of the just completed school year.
The Missouri Supreme Court today heard arguments over a 20-year-old law that requires unaccredited school districts to pay tuition for students who transfer to nearby accredited schools.
Last year, St. Louis County Judge David Vincent the Third ruled that the law in question was both unconstitutional and unenforceable, and that it would create an unfunded mandate for unaccredited schools. Attorney Elkin Kistner represents Gina Breitenfeld, a St. Louis woman who enrolled her children in the Clayton School district.
Legislation that’s designed to stop a potential mass exodus of students from unaccredited schools in St. Louis and Kansas City to nearby suburban schools was heard Tuesday before a Missouri Senate committee.
The bill’s provisions include scholarships for kids in unaccredited public schools to attend private schools, and it would allow accredited schools to open charter schools in unaccredited districts. Tina Hardin of St. Louis spoke in favor of the bill. Her son was accepted into a Catholic school, but says she can’t afford to send him there.