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By John Urkevich, Executive Director

After the Missouri Supreme Court’s July 16, 2010 ruling on the Turner v. Clayton case, St. Louis area school districts received thousands of calls from parents who are interested in relocating their children from an unaccredited school district into an accredited one.

Unfortunately, school districts don’t have any firm answers to give to inquiring parents at this time. While the Supreme Court did rule that students in unaccredited districts may transfer to an accredited district in the same or neighboring county, the court’s opinion is not self-executing. Parents and districts are left seeking clarification and wondering if and when this ruling will go into effect.

Here are some of the issues that need to be considered:

•  Students in districts that receive transfer students will be suddenly faced with larger class sizes and potentially less individualized instruction from teachers. Resources will be spread thin in many of these districts, and the possible cost to construct new facilities for additional non-resident students will cause an additional strain on districts and taxpayers.

•  Students who do remain in an unaccredited district will be provided fewer resources and those districts will likely struggle to improve their performance and accreditation status.  It will be very difficult to provide a high-quality education when the district is making payments to other districts for students who have transferred.

•  Students who transfer from an unaccredited to an accredited school district may in fact receive a better education.

•  Students who presently attend a private or parochial school but live within the boundaries of an unaccredited school district are also eligible to transfer at the expenses of the unaccredited district. This additional cost could be substantial.

While the developments in this case are ever-changing, our member districts can be assured that at Cooperating School Districts we have the best interests of students in mind as we work toward a resolution. CSD has taken a leadership role by forming a coalition of Missouri educational associations to collaborate in developing possible legislation that will impact how this decision is implemented. The coalition includes CSD of Great St. Louis, CSD of Greater Kansas City, Missouri School Boards’ Association, Missouri Association of School Administrators, Missouri State Teachers Association, Missouri National Education AssociationVoluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation, and St. Louis Public Schools.