Reimagining Education

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MO Supreme Court rules in favor of student transfers out of failed districts

This afternoon, the Missouri Supreme Court once again ruled that a portion of the 1993 Outstanding Schools Act, which allows children in failed school districts to transfer to neighboring successful districts, is constitutional.

The ruling on this case, formerly called Turner v. Clayton and now Breitenfeld v. Clayton, could have a significant impact on the tens of thousands children across the state residing in unaccredited school districts.

“The Supreme Court Ruling is a huge victory for the children who are stuck in a failed school district,” said Kate Casas, State Policy Director for the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri (CEAM). “This is the second unanimous decision on this issue by the High Court. I think the message is pretty clear: The court wants the law enforced. The question now should be, will districts finally be held accountable for following the law?”

There are currently three unaccredited school districts in Missouri: Kansas City Missouri Public Schools, Riverview Gardens Public Schools, and Normandy Public Schools. Under current law, the children in these three school districts should have the right to transfer to any accredited school district in the same or adjoining county at no expense to the family.

Additionally, Saint Louis Public Schools, which along with Clayton Public Schools was at the center of the Breitenfeld v. Clayton case, was unaccredited from 2005 through 2012. During that time, hundreds of families attempted to enroll in neighboring school districts and were illegally rejected.

“There are literally hundreds of families from failed districts who were denied their rights when they were turned away from school districts refusing to comply with the law,” said Casas. “CEAM is ready and willing to help those families navigate the unnecessarily complex process of accessing the high quality education their children deserve.”

“My eleventh- and my twelfth-grader have been trapped in Riverview Gardens High School for two years. That is 730 days too long, and I won’t waste another day. Tomorrow begins my next quest to get them in St. Louis County’s best school,” said Kim Williams. “I want to add that I am so thankful to Attorney General Chris Koster and all the lawyers on his team who didn’t give up on my son and daughter. You don’t see courage like that everyday, and he deserves a lot of credit.”

To see a map of unaccredited school districts in MO, click here.

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