In order to develop an informed opinion on the impending transfer of Normandy students to Francis Howell, one needs to look at the full set of facts.
For decades, students of unaccredited districts have been allowed to transfer to any school in their county or adjoining county. Before 1993, though, the law also said: “but no school or school district shall be required to admit any pupil.” In the massive rewrite of education law in 1993, those words were left out. Twice in the past three years, the Missouri Supreme Court has ruled state law does not allow an accredited school district such as Francis Howell to block the transfer of a student from an adjoining unaccredited district such as Normandy.
In 2011, Rep. Margo McNeil (D-Hazelwood) sponsored a bill, House Bill 514, to reintroduce the original wording back into state law. Even though Republican Rep. Rick Stream, a former member of the Kirkwood school board, joined McNeil’s efforts as a co-sponsor, the bill never received a hearing in the Republican-led legislature. Despite repetitive warnings from many sources over the following two years, St. Charles County Republican legislators stood by and let the courts decide our fate. Why? Republican leadership has an agenda shaped by billionaire Rex Sinquefield who has donated more money to political candidates than any other Missourian in history. Since moving students to other districts bolsters Sinquefield’s demand for vouchers for private schools, Republicans have embraced the court decision. (Sinquefield is a former member of the St. Louis Archdiocese’s finance committee.)
Now, St. Charles County Republicans like Rep. Mark Parkinson are attempting to rewrite history by acting surprised their own legislative inaction followed its natural course to a predictable – and problematic – conclusion: transfers being bused to Francis Howell. This is especially infuriating when five of them are on the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and have sat idly by for years.
The Democratic Central Committee of St. Charles County is opposed to busing students from any district without the approval of the elected board of the receiving district. We believe the Missouri Supreme Court erred in overturning a decades old tradition of the right of refusal of transfer students, and we will support any action taken by Francis Howell to correct this intrusion into the authority of individual school districts.
However the legal action turns out, we recognize all children matter. Our objections are not born of intolerance or prejudice, simply a commitment to local control of schools and a deeply held belief that temporary half-solutions are not the educational fix struggling communities need. We will not join the chorus of anger from a vocal minority or say derisive words, as one of our legislators has. In the end, we will embrace whatever the ultimate decision is and help make it succeed for the sake of all God’s children.
St. Charles, Mo. – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE