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Understanding Missouri’s School Transfer Law


Lawmakers in Jefferson City have proposed changes to a controversial and expensive law that enables students in unaccredited school districts to attend school in a fully accredited district, instead. To help you follow these conversations in the capital, today’s post on the Missouri Parent Blog explains what the School Transfer Law is, and what a few popular perspectives are surrounding it.

The Missouri School Transfer Law says that students who live in an unaccredited school district can transfer to an accredited school district in the same county or in an adjacent county at no charge to their own families. The costs associated with the school transfer, including transportation and tuition, are the responsibility of the home school district (the unaccredited district).

The School Transfer Law was created in 1993, and has been viewed as a blessing to some families and a frustration to others. Perspectives on the School Transfer Law run the gamut:

Some families see the law as a reflection of their child’s right to a high quality public education — if their own school cannot provide it, then the child should be allowed to attend school in a district that can. It is not a child’s fault if his or her school district loses accreditation. Every child — even those in a struggling district — has an equal right to earn a quality public education in Missouri.

Other families are concerned that the accredited school districts (called “receiving districts”) cannot handle the large influxes they see of students from outside districts. Logistically, the transfer law can pose a challenge for receiving districts, and parents who live in receiving districts have expressed concern about the educational standards in those districts being lowered to meet the academic abilities of transfer students from failing districts.

Parents in accredited districts often feel that they chose their district (and pay property taxes in their district) so that their children can attend high quality public schools. It feels unfair to those families to have children from unaccredited districts in their child’s school without living in the community or paying local taxes to support the local education system.

Another prominent perspective on the School Transfer Law is that it drains resources out of already-struggling school district, making it even more difficult for unaccredited districts to succeed. Rather than spend millions of dollars each year on transportation and tuition in another district, goes this line of thinking, that money should be invested directly into making the unaccredited school district stronger.

Missouri Parent believes that the School Transfer Law is an expensive policy that compounds existing problems — especially budget issues — in struggling districts. Our belief is that the money invested in transportation and tuition should be infused back into local schools, giving them the resources they need to succeed.

We want to hear from you, though: What do you think about the Missouri School Transfer Law? Have your children benefited from it? Has your home school district struggled as a result of the law? What do you think of the discussions happening in Jefferson City that could result in changes to the existing School Transfer Law?

Our goals include sharing relevant and timely policy and funding information with Missouri parents, and helping you — parents of Missouri public school students — to support your child in his or her public school career. We hope you’ll leave a comment on the Blog or on our Facebook Page, and that you’ll connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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