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Kirkwood Administrators Hear Concerns, Say They Are Ready To Support Incoming Students

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.

Kirkwood Superintendent Tom Williams said they’re ready and willing to add staff to accommodate extra kids in their classrooms.

“We will spend resources where we need to, it will not take resources away from anyone else,” Williams said.  “And we will do what we need to do to make sure every one of those kids have a quality education and are successful.  That’s our goal, and I think all of our staff would agree with that.”

State Senators Scott Sifton and Eric Schmitt spoke at the meeting and said discussions are already underway between legislators to change the statue that allows the transfer process.

Listen to comments made by Republican State Sen. Eric Schmitt.

Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro said her department stands ready to assist lawmakers who want make alterations to the 20-year-old law that allows students in unaccredited districts to transfer to an accredited district in the same or adjoining county. 

Kirkwood is one of two transportation options for students wishing to transfer out of the unaccredited Riverview Gardens School District.

John Davidson made a $100 donation on their behalf, and asked people in the audience to do the same.

“Somebody needs a cab ride home after football practice, whatever, coach Wade, here’s my check. I’m asking everybody to join the hundred club,” Davidson said.

Preliminary numbers from the Cooperating School Districts (CSD) of St. Louis, which is coordinating the transfer process, show that Kirkwood will have more than 140 extra kids this fall.  CSD is continuing to place students who did not get into he district that were their families' first, second or third options and the number of students transferring to Kirkwood could go up in the coming days.   The process of placing all transfer students is expected to be wrapped up on Wednesday, according to CSD.    

Both Kirkwood and Mehlville, the transportation options selected by Riverview Gardens administrators, say they do not have room to accommodate all the students who would like to transfer to their schools.  The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have questioned the legal basis for turning away students from unaccredited districts. 

Mehlville Superintendent Eric Knost says his district may face a lawsuit in the coming days, and issued the below statement on the district's Facebook page. 

We have received a Draft Petition for Declaratory Judgement and Injunctive Relief against the Mehlville School District regarding the transfer of students from unaccredited school districts. The District will work with our legal counsel to respond appropriately to the court action.  We continue to work to comply with the student transfers to the best of our ability on such short notice while keeping the best interests of all students in mind. We are in the process of enrolling 216 student transfers from Riverview Gardens while continuing to enroll in-district residents. We stay committed to educational excellence for all of our currently enrolled and future enrolled students. I'll keep you posted to the best of my ability as we navigate this court action in the coming days. In the meantime, our mission and our focus on students will not be impacted. We will proceed as a unified district in our efforts to provide an outstanding educational experience for all children.

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