ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) — Aiming to keep parents and students informed Dr. Eric Knost, the superintendent of the Mehlville School District sent an email to parents and posted a statement on the district’s Facebook page Wednesday. (Read full statement below)
In the message he answered FAQs about the student transfer issue and clarified exactly what the Missouri Supreme Court decision means.
“Moving forward, we are currently analyzing our available space throughout our ten elementary schools, four middle and two high schools. We will only fill seats in specific classrooms with lower and more desirable numbers.”
Dr. Eric Knost went on to say “the space impact to the Mehlville District will be minimal.”
He adds that any student with a record will not be allowed to transfer to Mehlville, and that he personally will “meet with each family/student transferring in to our district.”
Knost ends the message by point to two dates coming up:
A channel 9 television show Thursday July 18, at 9:00 p.m.,
and the Mehlville Board of Education meeting on Thursday, July 25.
My attempt with this message is to keep everyone informed on any developments regarding the Riverview Gardens School District’s decision to transport students requesting a transfer to the Mehlville School District.
First of all, I would like to reiterate a few very important facts:
-This is the result of a Missouri Supreme Court decision in the Breitenfeld v Clayton case (formerly Turner v Clayton). The ruling interpreted an existing statute that gives students in unaccredited school districts the right to transfer to any other accredited school district in the same or adjoining counties.
-The unaccredited school district must send tuition payments per student to the receiving districts. In Mehlville, our tuition rate is $9,306. This is what we would/will receive for each transfer student from unaccredited school districts.
-Any unaccredited school district must name one school district where they will transport students seeking a transfer. As you know, Riverview Gardens selected the Mehlville School District. They cite our low per pupil expenditure/tuition rate, our strong academic achievement and our proximity to local highways as the reasons for selecting Mehlville. Important fact: Riverview Gardens did not consult with me or anyone from our district prior to selecting Mehlville. As superintendent, I learned of their decision the same day it went public. Per the current law and Supreme Court decision, Riverview was not required to involve us in their decision.
-We do not have the legal right to reject the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision but we will apply very reasonable parameters for receiving transfer students.
Moving forward, we are currently analyzing our available space throughout our ten elementary schools, four middle and two high schools. We will only fill seats in specific classrooms with lower and more desirable numbers. No class with higher numbers will be receiving transfer students and no single class will receive more than a few students.
Any open spaces we determine will be spread throughout all of our buildings and grade levels and there will be little impact on the overall enrollment in any school. Due to capacity, some specific schools and some specific grade levels will receive no transfers.
All in-district, resident enrollments will receive priority over out of district transfers. Similar to previous years, we are still receiving in-district enrollments in July. We will monitor these additions prior to publicizing any number of open seats for out of district transfers. Riverview Gardens students wishing to transfer to Mehlville must apply through their home district by August 1, 2013. Once we receive the final number of requests from Riverview Gardens, we will respond with our open seats per grade level. District-wide, the space impact to the Mehlville District will be minimal.
Students with any record of Safe School violations will be not be permitted to transfer to Mehlville. I’ve been in touch with many Riverview Gardens parents who are simply interested in a quality school to send their children. While we will not be able to accommodate all requests to transfer, those who do transfer will be received, nurtured and educated as our own students. I plan to personally meet with each family/student transferring in to our district.
I’ve had many questions pertaining to variances of individual students’ academic levels. In the Mehlville School District we are designed to meet the needs of all students on an individual basis. This is probably best depicted in our ability to educate a high level of English Language Learners. Our district has one of the highest ELL populations in the state of Missouri.
We have also participated annually in the voluntary transfer program (VICC) for inner-city minority students. These students opt for a transfer out of troubling city schools to receive an education in our district. While in the early years of desegregation there were notable issues, this hasn’t been the case for years. With our involvement in the VICC program, we do not experience the same issues depicted in some of the more underachieving city schools.
Regardless of our success with the VICC program, due to Riverview Gardens decision to transport students to Mehlville, I have immediately halted any and all new VICC requests to transfer. This program is voluntary for our district unlike transfers linked to the Missouri Supreme Court decision.
By law, other students from other unaccredited districts may also seek transfers to the Mehlville School District if they provide their own transportation. At this time we have receive zero requests for transfers from Normandy which is the only other unaccredited school district in St. Louis County.
I have worked hard to personally respond to every single question sent my way. This has been my effort to stay personally engaged as opposed to simply directing folks to a common set of FAQ’s. Throughout this process I want the world to see our school district and our community as a true district of character. Many comments and suggestions being made are either uninformed or misinformed. As the superintendent of the Mehlville School District I will make sure we are complying with the law while keeping the best interests of all students in mind. The quality of education in the Mehlville School District will never be compromised. Under my watch, I will see to it that we continue down the strong, successful path we have paved in recent years.
We have a Mehlville Board of Education meeting on Thursday, July 25 where I will discuss any update to this situation in my Superintendent’s report. I am also scheduled to participate in a Channel 9 television show on this topic, live on Thursday evening, July 18, at 9:00pm. Please consider tuning in to this broadcast.
In the meantime, thanks for your trust, confidence and patience as we effectively work through this situation.
Dr. Eric D. Knost