Jacology: Bus Transportation For Transfer Students

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(KPLR) - Article 9, section 1 of the Missouri State Constitution states: '[A] general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people, the general assembly shall establish and maintain free public schools for the gratuitous instruction of all persons in this state within ages not in excess of [21] years.” In this case, gratuitous instruction doesn’t mean uncalled for, it means free of charge.

But here's the spooky part - in a 2009 ruling the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that because of the way this is written, free public education is not a fundamental right. It's just something the state is required to provide, which gets us to the heart of the school transfer controversy.

State law says if a school district loses its state accreditation, children are then free to transfer to any school district in that county or any surrounding counties. This is why 12,000 students from the Riverview Gardens and Normandy school districts are free to go elsewhere since both districts have lost state accreditation.

Riverview Gardens says it'll provide bus transportation for students transferring out, but only to the Mehville School District, which is 22 miles away. Normandy says it'll only provide bus transportation to the Francis Howell District in St. Charles County. The suspicion is both districts are trying to keep students from transferring by only providing bus service to far away districts.

This, if true, is sleazy. Kids can transfer to any district, but because parents either work or don’t have cars, taking the kids to and from school is a hardship - if it’s even possible at all. By running buses only to far-off districts Riverview Gardens and Normandy are defying what the law is about, which is a good education for kids in districts that aren’t failing.

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