CONTACT:  Michele Clark
Communications Coordinator
573-751-3469

Vol. 44, No. 62

August 6, 2010

 

Education Department Files Motion on Turner v. Clayton

Court ruling could have ripple effects throughout the state

 

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education filed an amicus brief this week in Turner v. School District of Clayton to address key issues relating to a ruling handed down last month by the Missouri Supreme Court.

The Court's original ruling overturned a lower court's summary judgment in Clayton's favor and remanded the case back to the lower court. It was not a final resolution of the matter.

The families of six students who live in the Saint Louis Public School District brought the original lawsuit. The students were previously enrolled as tuition students in the Clayton schools prior to the St. Louis Public Schools losing its accreditation in 2007. The families sought billing and payment by the respective schools for their students’ tuition.

The July 16 Supreme Court ruling calls for unaccredited public schools to pay tuition payments for students who transfer to accredited school districts in the same or neighboring counties. The ruling also states that receiving school districts must accept all those students who wish to transfer.

The Department is not a party to the suit, yet the ruling raises many questions for public school districts, state officials said. The Department filed a motion to stay implementation of the order due to the short time before the start of school.

Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro told school administrators at a meeting this week that the court decision raises important questions for many school districts in Missouri. She hopes the implementation of the court ruling can be delayed until the 2011-12 school year to allow the state legislature to intervene.

“The decision could have a major impact on student enrollment, so we are hoping for the opportunity for a review of the law in this area by the General Assembly,” Nicastro said. “In implementing the decision, it would be important to find some way for a receiving school to determine and balance capacity of taking on new students without jeopardizing instructional programs within a district.”

The state currently has two unaccredited school districts. The other district is Riverview Gardens in St. Louis County, which lost its accreditation in July 2009.