unaccredited school district

school buses
Twix / Flickr

Missouri education officials have granted provisional accreditation to the Kansas City School District.

(Updated 1:29 p.m., Fri., July 18)

Even though the University City School Board has voted to change course and accept students who are qualified to transfer from Normandy, uncertainty surrounding the transfers remains.

As promised, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed on Tuesday the wide-ranging school transfer bill passed by lawmakers this year, saying it violates basic principles of public education and does nothing to help students trapped in unaccredited schools.

At the offices of Education Plus in west St. Louis County, the governor listed three main reasons for his action.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Anxiety crept through SheRon Chaney when she heard that the Francis Howell School District would no longer accept about 350 transfer students from Normandy who were signed up to continue in the program. 

“Last year we were hopeful, this year we’re fearful,” she said. 

Chaney transferred her middle school aged daughter BrenNae to Maplewood Richmond Heights last year.  And even though Francis Howell’s decision --  made during a closed session of its school board -- doesn’t affect her directly, it has Chaney and hundreds of other parents holding their breath.

classroom
Håkan Dahlström / Flickr

Missouri education officials have released new guidance for student transfer policies.

After telegraphing his intention for a week, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday announced that he is indeed going to veto the student-transfer bill because of its provisions allowing public money to be used for private schools.

He also faults the bill because it does not require unaccredited sending districts to pay any transportation costs for students transferring to accredited districts, as the schools now are required to do.

 It’s just after 7 a.m., and SheRon Chaney already has her family packed into an SUV and ready for school.

“On a good day like today, I’m hoping it only takes about 35 minutes,” she said.

Marshall Griffin / St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate has passed the final version of legislation designed to ease the burden of the state's school transfer law. It includes a provision that would end free transportation for transfer students -- a provision that would make it harder for students from failing schools to actually attend other districts.

(Updated at 6:12 p.m.)

House and Senate negotiators have wrapped up work on a final version of a bill to ease the burden of Missouri’s student transfer law.

Senate Bill 493 would allow for individual school buildings to be accredited, instead of the school district as a whole, and it would create regional authorities to oversee transfers.

JEFFERSON CITY -- From the start of Monday’s six-hour session considering a variety of ways to help struggling schools, the head of the Missouri board of education emphasized that the state is concerned about long-range, broad-based policy, not the operations of individual districts.

But as board members heard a number of presentations on suggested reforms, the talk returned time and again to the current transfers out of unaccredited school districts and the impact on the students who live there.

As Missouri education officials continue to gather public comment on what the state should do to help unaccredited school districts, one sentiment became clear Wednesday night:

The public needs to have a strong voice in whatever plans are adopted.

 A report from a coalition of church groups in St. Louis says a plan commissioned by the Missouri state board of education to help struggling school districts could result in “an educational ghetto.”

Classroom
File Photo / KBIA

Missouri lawmakers are facing pressure to address a student transfer law and unaccredited school districts.

The law requires school districts without state accreditation to cover the costs for students who want to attend an accredited district within the same county or a bordering one. It makes no exceptions for those without room for new students.

Missouri now has three unaccredited districts. About 2,000 students have transferred from two districts in St. Louis County and transfers could start soon in Kansas City.

Mo. court upholds student transfer law in KC case

Dec 10, 2013
John Murden / Flickr

The Missouri Supreme Court has again upheld a law requiring unaccredited school districts to pay for students who chose to attend elsewhere.

The court's unanimous decision Tuesday applies to the Kansas City School District and its suburban neighbors. A similar ruling earlier this year dealt with St. Louis area schools.

A 1993 Missouri law requires unaccredited school districts to cover the costs for students to attend nearby accredited schools.

Public schools in Kansas City, Missouri, will remain unaccredited.

Missouri Supreme Court
Americasroof / Wikimedia Commons

The Missouri Supreme Court again is considering a court challenge to a law permitting students to transfer from unaccredited school districts to other districts nearby.

The court upheld the law earlier in a case from the St. Louis area. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court's focus turned to Kansas City, which has been unaccredited since 2012.

Taxpayers from five surrounding districts filed suit and contend the transfer law is an unfunded mandate violating the Missouri Constitution.

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.

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.

New state projections show more Missouri school districts would have their accreditation come under extra scrutiny under a new evaluation system.

The Missouri Senate has passed bills that would allow for more charter schools in the state and would also allow the state to take over failing school districts more quickly.

State education officials could step in quicker to assist failing Missouri school districts under legislation backed in the House.

Districts that lose state accreditation currently are given two years to improve before the state officials can intervene. The new legislation removes the waiting period.

When the state Board of Education revokes a district's accreditation, it then would decide whether to set conditions for the local school board to remain in place or determine when an alternative governing system for those schools would take effect.

Ellen Thommesen / Columbia Missourian

This week: students in unaccredited school districts with ambitions for college could find themselves in limbo. Plus, kids get up close and personal with alpacas.

Hosted by Ryan Famuliner.