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Normandy, Mo. Students Still Seek to Transfer to Other Districts

Despite the recent state takeover of the troubled Normandy, Mo. public schools meant to improve its financial and academic standing, students who wish to transfer out of the district to a higher-performing one must be allowed to do so.

That ruling from a St. Louis County judge invalidates steps taken earlier this summer by the Missouri Board of Education to shield Normandy from having to continue to comply with a controversial state law that allows students to transfer from unaccredited school districts to higher-performing ones in the same region. Paying tuition and transportation costs for hundreds of transferring students had nearly bankrupted Normandy in 2013-14 until the state stepped in and acted to staunch the flow of transfers.

The board's move gave the districts that had received Normandy transfers the discretion to allow the students to return or not.

But a group of Normandy parents filed a lawsuit to allow their children to continue attending their new schools. The judge agreed that both Normandy and the receiving school districts must continue to adhere to the state transfer law.

According to the Associated Press, one district—the Francis Howell school system in neighboring St. Charles County where more than 300 Normandy students attended last year—said it would only re-enroll transfer students who receive individual court orders. A group of lawyers has been working to obtain those individual orders for students.

These developments are more blows to Normandy's already deeply-challenged school community, as so poignantly described by a middle school language arts teacher in the district.

And the tension between efforts to save a struggling district and families who want better schooling options for their children is playing out in a community roiled by the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who had just recently graduated from Normandy High School. Brown, who was African American, was unarmed when he was killed by a white police officer in the nearby city of Ferguson, Mo., last month.

Brown's shooting death—which has sparked a St. Louis County police investigation as well as two separate federal civil rights investigations—set off several days of unrest that included peaceful protests, looting, and clashes between protesters and police.

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