Earlier this week, I sat down with attorney Joshua Schindler. Schindler represents several Normandy students who would like to transfer to accredited school districts. Last year, roughly 2,200 students transferred from two unaccredited school districts in North Saint Louis. Due to a change in Normandy’s accreditation status, four districts chose not to allow Normandy students to return.
Francis Howell, Pattonville, Ferguson-Florissant, and Ritenour transfer students were devastated. They had to return to a school district in which 16.8 is the average ACT score (the state average is 21.6). In a recent Washington Post article, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux wrote:
Carmen Clemons has two teenage sons who were in advanced-placement classes. One wants to be an engineer, the other a firefighter. She describes them as “nerdy, nice kids.”
This year, they were told they had to go to Normandy High. The school didn’t have the same advanced classes they had been taking. And on Day 5 of the academic year, they told their mother they had been “jumped,” or beaten up.
“No one broke the fight up,” Clemons said. “I was never notified. I had to go running in today to talk to the principal. We’ve worked so hard to raise respectful kids. My boys are such good students, but my son came home terrified when another student said, ‘If I see those shoes on your feet, I’m gonna take them.’ ”
Now she’s calling private schools, begging for scholarships. And she and her husband, who barely make enough to pay the bills, are thinking about selling their three-bedroom house.
After Judge Michael Burton’s decision to allow the Normandy students named in the lawsuit to return to their receiving districts, Pattonville, Ferguson-Florissant, and Ritenour chose to accept all students that had reapplied for the 2014-15 school year—Francis Howell interpreted the ruling to mean only one student may return.
Since Francis Howell’s decision to reject all but one transfer student, Schindler has begun laying the groundwork for a class-action lawsuit. Watch this video to learn more about the history of the Missouri transfer law, as well as the current legal situation surrounding the law.