Reimagining Education

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School Districts are Above the Law?

At the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri we are often asked, “If the law says that my child has the right to attend an accredited school for free, why is no one being punished for denying my child an accredited education?”

Until now, we generally just listened, provided a sympathic ear and ultimately told them that we didn’t really know why it seemed to be ok for districts to have a blatant disregard for what is actually a pretty simple law (you can see the law for yourself right here).

However, on March 8, this story on the now-famous Turner vs Clayton case was in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. This article says, “…after St. Louis schools lost its accreditation in 2007, the [D]epartment [of Elementary and Secondary Education] told county districts they did not have to comply with the statute [167.131].”  

Soon after this article was published, The Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri was sent copies of three letters that the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education sent to school districts in the Saint Louis region stating that they, in fact, did not have to follow the law saying children could transfer out of an unaccredited district into an accredited one. You can read copies of those letters here and here.

To be clear DESE does NOT have the authority to make decisions about which Missouri laws are followed and which ones are not. They are simply tasked with enforcing the laws as written. As a result, CEAM believes that DESE must rectify this by providing written guidance to the effected school districts stating that they were wrong to issue the previous letters and that the law should be enforced as written.


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