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Enforce the Law

By Kate Casas, State Director, Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri

Dale Singer’s July 19 article, “Second Court Ruling Says Suburban District Must Accept Saint Louis Student” in the Saint Louis Beacon details the law suit filed on behalf of one Saint Louis City resident who wants to enroll in Webster Groves High School because Saint Louis Public Schools is unaccredited. Unfortunately, the article fails to mention that this student already had the right, under current Missouri law, to do so at no cost to her or her family.

The Outstanding Schools Act of 1993, which states clearly and unambiguously that a student residing in an unaccredited school district has the right to enroll in a district in the same or adjoining county, was passed by the Democratic-Led General Assembly and signed into law by then Governor Mel Carnahan.

While I believe that any ruling that helps a child access a better education is a victory and should be told, the real story here is the fact that since 2007, accredited school districts in the Saint Louis region have failed to follow the law and have not been compelled by any state authority to do so.

I am hopeful for King-Willman’s future—as she will likely be able to attend the wildly successful Webster Groves High School. I also believe that any other student with the wherewithal to make it through a year-long court proceeding and is awarded the chance to have a great education; will also have a fabulous chance at success.  However, in order for the children who are in the most desperate need of an improved education to be given a chance at success, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education or the Missouri General Assembly will have to mandate that districts implement this law and punish those districts that choose not to do so.

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