CLAYTON, MO (KPLR) – A group of Normandy School District parents asked a St. Louis County Circuit judge Wednesday to allow their children to continue to attend schools in an accredited district while Normandy rebuilds under state supervision.
The lawsuit speaks on behalf of students caught in a Catch -22. They transferred to districts last fall and wanted to return, but school boards in Francis Howell, Pattonville, Ritenour and Ferguson-Florissant have refused to accept them for a second year.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education took over the unaccredited Normandy District on July 1st and created a new district within the old boundaries. A spokeswoman for DESE said the State Board of Education’s current transfer policy prohibits students from going to another accredited district now that the “Normandy Collaborative Schools” are under state supervision.
Normandy students attending districts that continue to welcome them are allowed to remain there.
Parent Shalonda Smith said, “all I want is for them to go to an accredited school whether it is Francis Howell or another accredited district.” She is mother to four students who attended Francis Howell schools during the 2013-2014 year.
Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal is angry with the State Board of Education. “What that does to these children is basically imprisons them in a district that is truly unaccredited. They have not changed the superintendent. They pretty much have not changed any of the teachers,” she said.
Attorney Joshua Schindler who represents the parents told the judge the state is “playing games.” He reminded the court Missouri law gives students the right to transfer out of unaccredited school districts to accredited districts.
Schindler accused the State Board of Education of attempting to change the accreditation status of the new Normandy District during a conference call meeting that was not open to the public. DESE said the call just corrected a mistake in the original draft of the minutes, something that is often done.
The attorney for DESE declined to speak about the case.