White district sends black youth back to failing schools
Hundreds of mostly poor students of color will be sent back to their home districts next school year.
The students used controversial Missouri law to transfer out of the failing schools, to enter better schools in predominately white neighborhoods.
The reversal puts the academic fate of some of the state’s most needy and disadvantaged students at risk.
Last summer, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling that allowed students from unaccredited school districts to transfer to better schools. Thousands of students from the African-American suburbs of St. Louis streamed across the border to much wealthier, white districts and better-performing schools closer to home. But the exodus triggered a number of unexpected consequences. The failing districts were financially responsible for paying all transfer-related expenses, including tuition and transportation costs.
As a result, the transfers nearly crippled one school district in particular, the Normandy schools, which has paid about $10.4 million to a dozen different school districts. The costs for the Normandy district, which is about 97% black and whose student body is deeply impoverished, forced the legislature to appropriate supplemental funding to keep it afloat.
The issue was forced back to the state board after attempts to tweak the law to alleviate some of the burdens placed on schools were stymied when Gov. Jay Nixon threatened to veto a proposed bill. Recently, the board voted to replace the Normandy School District with a new district, the Normandy Schools Collaborative starting July 1.
The new district includes the same boundaries and schools as the old district, but the name change makes the district no longer unaccredited and therefore eligible under the transfer law.
School leaders at the well-to-do Francis Howell district announced they would no longer accept incoming transfer students. They also stated that roughly 400 students who had previously transferred to the district this school year would no longer be able to attend.
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