A judge on Tuesday ruled in favor of the School District of Clayton in a widely watched case that deals with the transfer of students from unaccredited schools to accredited ones, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The Jane Turner vs. School District of Clayton case dealt with students from unaccredited districts being allowed to choose to attend any accredited district in the same or adjoining county. Furthermore, the court had contended that the accepting district has no discretion in the matter.
Local school officials were concerned that the lack of local control would force them to increase class size and add classrooms, which could ultimately result in tax increases for district residents. In the St. Louis area, both the St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) and Riverview Gardens School District are unaccredited.
The School District of University City is an accredited district.
Quoting from Tuesday's Post-Dispatch article:
"Under the ruling, students from unaccredited school districts would not have the right to transfer to better school districts for free."
Chief Communications Officer Chris Tennill of the School District of Clayton said the district is "thrilled" with the ruling.
"This is a statute that, in its current form, doesn't work the way it's intended to," said Tennill, describing how the ruling by Judge David Lee Vincent III aligns with the district's positions on student transfers.
He said it's unclear whether plaintiffs will appeal the case, so the district will take a wait-and-see approach for the immediate future. If it is appealed, he said, the district is prepared to continue facing the issue of transfers with the "same dedication and intensity" as it has for the last five years.
Elkin Kistner, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said he has 40 days from Tuesday to file an appeal. He isn't sure when the filing will occur.
"That's the reason appeals exist," Kistner said.
As for the ruling, he said: "It's not good news."
Turner v. Clayton has been highly contested for several years for several reasons. State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, questioned the financial viability of the plan.
According to the South County Times, Chappelle-Nadal said city schools already have a problem getting by on local, state and federal monies.
"If you look at the population of students in private schools right now, and those who may choose to go to public schools in St. Louis County, that is going to be an amount of money not counted toward the funding formula," Chappelle-Nadal said. "We already have a problem funding a formula."
Chappelle-Nadal sits on the school board in University City.