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The following release has been updated. You can see the update here.
For immediate release
Parents from Riverview Gardens School District
Poised to File Lawsuit against Mehlville School District, if Necessary
Mehlville Has Until 3 p.m. Thursday to Take Corrective Action and Stop the Filing
August 6, 2013 (ST. LOUIS) – Three parents of children from unaccredited Riverview Gardens School District (RGSD) are prepared to file suit against Mehlville School District (MSD) if the latter fails to revisit its current policy regarding transfer students and make necessary changes before Thurs., Aug. 8, at 3 p.m., at which time a lawsuit will be filed. Such changes include expanding the number of student transfers the district will accept from RGSD.
The Mehlville Board of Education and the district’s superintendent have received copies of the lawsuit, which has already been drafted, as well as a letter explaining the plaintiff’s good faith hope to work out an agreement without having to go to court, and in advance of MSD’s first day of school, Thurs., Aug. 15. Riverview Gardens’ first day of school is Mon., Aug. 12.
“The Children’s Alliance of Missouri has maintained, since June 11, that as long as school districts were making every effort to comply with the guidelines set forth by the State Department of Education and/or RSMo 167.131, that we would not play a role in any litigation,” said Kate Casas, state director, Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri. “However, upon comparing MSD student enrollment and capacity in recent years against the limited number of students it accepted from RGSD, it is clear they are not in compliance and we are now stepping in as facilitator to help parents fight this injustice.”
On June 11, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the Outstanding Schools Act, which gives parents of children in failing school districts the right to send their child to school in a neighboring district, at the expense of the failing district. While RGSD students are free to attend any neighboring district, RGSD will only assume the cost of bussing students to either MSD or Kirkwood High School. RGSD students wishing to transfer entered a lottery to determine which school they would attend. The challenge has now become that there are more students seeking transfer than spaces currently allotted in the receiving districts. Careful examination of past enrollment shows MSD has the capacity to accept more transfers, and must do so to be in compliance with the law.
“My child is one of dozens of students who were not chosen in the lottery to attend the Mehlville School District,” said April Jones. “Unless Mehlville complies with the law and agrees to accept more transfer students, my child will remain trapped in the failed, unaccredited Riverview Gardens School District.”
Throughout the past eight weeks, CEAM has been working with nearly one thousand parents in both the RGSD and the Normandy School Districts, helping them to navigate the education and legal system and make decisions to best serve their children.
“The Supreme Court ruling gave us such hope,” said Lajunta Brown. “But that hope was squashed when we found out our children didn’t win the lottery. My children’s education – their futures – should not be determined by a lottery. They deserve better than that. I am committed to seeing this lawsuit through, if necessary, because I am committed to ensuring my children receive the quality education they deserve.”