Nixon vetoes Missouri student transfers legislation

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BRECKENRIDGE HILLS, MO (KPLR)-Missouri’s governor Jay Nixon vetoed this year’s school transfer bill Friday, saying the measure was hijacked. It was supposed to improve opportunities for public school students living in unaccredited districts like Riverview Gardens and Normandy.

A coalition of Democratic and Republican lawmakers had tried to improve educational opportunities for students trapped in failing districts, but the bill opened the door to the expanded use of taxpayer financed vouchers for online education.  That was just one of the reasons behind the veto.

Currently, students in the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens schools may transfer to an opening in an accredited district but their home districts are struggling under the heavy cost of transfer tuition. Governor Nixon argues the new bill failed to solve that critical issue.

“By the time it got to my desk it mandated expensive voucher schemes, neglected accountability and skirted major underlying difficulties in the transfer law while creating a host of potential new problems for districts all across our state,” said Nixon

Local lawmakers who back the governor’s veto joined him at a news conference at Ritenour High School in Breckenridge Hills Friday.

State Representative Clem Smith (D- Normandy) said, “There were a few good things in the bill but for the most part it took away and was people’s pet projects and experiments. Students in Normandy or Riverview are not guinea pigs and should not be experimented on.”

Democratic state Senator Jamilah Nasheed disagrees.  She complains, “Too many of our kids are being socially promoted or completely brushed aside simply because of their parent’s zip code.  That is unacceptable.  Today the governor struck a huge blow to Missouri’s future.”

The Children’s Education Alliance Of Missouri  sent hundreds of signatures to Nixon urging him to sign the measure  as a way to provide more quality school options to families.

Anton Harris who supported the school transfer bill told FOX 2, “Vetoing House Bill 42… it does not solve anything.  We still have failing school districts. We still have children that are in these school districts that are under performing and they are not learning anything.”

Nixon is encouraging area school districts to lower tuition rates for transfers and to provide professional assistance to both Normandy and Riverview Gardens.

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