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ACLU Says It’s Unconstitutional for Kirkwood, Mehlville to Limit Number of Transfer Students

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri (ACLU) says words like “lottery” and “deadline” have no place in the vocabulary of students transferring out of the failing Riverview Gardens and Normandy school districts.

The group sent letters to Kirkwood and Mehlville School superintendents Friday stating that if they don’t have space for all the students who have applied, then they need to make space.

Last week the Mehlville Superintendent Eric Knost said his district could only accept 218 transferring students, Kirkwood said they only have enough room for 175 students.

“We are hopeful that no student, no family will be denied their right to attend an accredited school,” said Jeffrey Mittman, ACLU of Eastern Missouri executive director.

“If it were to come to a point where a student, or a family were told ‘there’s no space you’re too late’ or anything that would limit the right to attend an accredited school… the ACLU would circle back with the relevant district.”

Mittman says under the current law imposed by the Missouri Supreme Court, districts can’t limit the number of transferring student, and arbitrary deadlines or using a lottery process is not the way the law reads.

“Any procedures or processes put in place to help the process move along we certainly understand. They should only be that, steps and moving the process along not final cut-offs,” said Mittman.

He fears that on the first day of school some children and families may be turned away from an education. If that happens the ACLU would consider suing.

Around 300 students from the Riverview Gardens and Normandy school districts went through a second lottery Monday to determine where they will attend school after failing to get into their schools of choice in a lottery last week.

The Cooperating School Districts of Greater St. Louis announced late Saturday night they had placed 2,400 students from the two districts in one of three school districts: Kirkwood, Mehlville or Francis Howell.

Mittman says it’s up to those districts to decide how to handle the influx of students.

Parents from Riverview Gardens or Normandy school districts can contact the ACLU at 314-652-3111.

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