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Mo. Education Leader Says Student Transfer Law Will Financially Cripple Unaccredited Schools

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

A joint House-Senate committee heard testimony Tuesday on the effects of Missouri's school transfer law, which allows students from unaccredited K-12 schools to transfer to nearby accredited districts.

The 5 1/2-hour hearing kicked off with Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Chris Nicastro telling the committee of the dire situation facing the state's unaccredited school districts.

"The costs are simply unsustainable for (the) sending districts," Nicastro said.  "We believe that it will be impossible for a sending district to continue to pay tuition under the current calculation and survive financially."

Nicastro said the situation is especially dire for Normandy Schools in St. Louis County.

"We have about 3,000 children who remain in Normandy, (and) they have every right to expect a high quality education where they are," Nicastro said.  "We believe that they are going to run out of money before the end of this school year."

Nicastro has requested more funding for Normandy to get through the current school year.  She also offered some recommendations to the joint House-Senate committee – they include passing legislation that would revoke the student transfer law.  Committee members are expected to adopt recommendations before the start of next year's legislative session.

Nicastro's entire presentation can be viewed here.

Over 2,600 students have transferred from Normandy and Riverview Gardens to nearby schools in St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County, and that number could greatly expand pending the outcome of a lawsuit that's delayed transfers from Kansas City's unaccredited school district.  That lawsuit is scheduled to be heard Wednesday by the Missouri Supreme Court.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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