Fewer than 4 percent of Clayton High School’s student population comprises transfer students from unaccredited St. Louis City schools, around 30 students, according to the district spokesman.
That number has dropped dramatically since kids were first bused in under statutory tuition mandates applied to Riverview Gardens and Normandy, two districts the state took control of after years of failing grades.
In 2013, more than a thousand children were bused to some 22 successful school districts in the region, including Clayton. The following year, that number had dropped to 436, according to Focus St. Louis, a local civic leadership group.
The State Board of Education classifies public school districts in three categories: accredited, provisionally accredited, and unaccredited. A 1993 state law provided that students in an unaccredited district could transfer to an accredited district in the same or adjoining county at no cost to the family. The law requires the unaccredited school district to cover tuition and transportation costs for students transferring to accredited school districts. In recent years, that cost has topped $23 million for already struggling school districts to the north.
The integration of students into Clayton’s successful program didn’t come as good news to everyone. In 2007, Parents representing six students attending Clayton schools filed a lawsuit against the Clayton and St. Louis school districts and the City of St. Louis Board of Education.
In the fall of 2012, St. Louis Public Schools regained provisional accreditation, meaning kids in those districts can no longer transfer to neighboring schools under the 1993 law.
However, in January 2013, the Normandy School District lost its accreditation and Riverview Gardens is now in its 11th year of being unaccredited. Therefore, those children are still allowed by law to transfer to a nearby accredited district.