ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- The vice-president of the Missouri State Board of Education tells FOX 2 he thinks much of the opposition to having students transfer from unaccredited school districts is because of racism.
The controversy is because thousands of students from the Normandy and Riverview Gardens School Districts can now transfer to any school district in St. Louis County or surrounding counties.
State lawmakers from St. Louis and St. Charles Counties say those transfers could cause chaos. But the number two person at the state board of education says he thinks racism may be the real reason for opposition.
The Normandy and Riverview Gardens School Districts have lost state accreditation. So state law says the 12,000 mostly black, mostly low-income students, can now transfer to any other school district in St. Louis County or any surrounding county.
Some St. Charles and St. Louis County lawmakers are upset that school districts they represent may face an avalanche of incoming students.
“I've seen pictures of Normandy High School and it’s been described as the taj mahal of public high schools. And if the elected board chose maybe to step down the niceties of the high school and they chose as an elected board to spend more of that money in the classroom, rather on elaborate infrastructure, they wouldn't be in the mess they're in today,” said State Rep. Mark Parkinson.
“That's all we’re asking for in this particular case too is to set up a procedure so that the schools and the school districts aren't overwhelmed by, as you point out, 12,000 students who could come out,” said State Rep. Rick Stream.
Are they worried do you think about the flood of students coming in or are they worried about the flood of low-income mostly black kids coming into their mostly white districts?
“Well Charles, my response to that is if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it's probably a duck.,” said Mike Jones, Vice President of the state board of education.
Mike Jones thinks racism and economic class are the issues.
“We're not talking about Clayton and Ladue failing schools, we're talking about failing schools in urban districts who are low income and who happen to have predominately children of color,” he stated.
“Anybody who makes the race an issue in this decision is intellectually lazy. It’s purely an economic decision,” claimed Parkinson.
And the issue is causing raw nerves with a little over five weeks until school starts.
The Riverview Gardens Districts says it will pay for bus transportation to the Mehville School District in South County. The Normandy District will provide buses to St. Charles County’s Francis Howell School District. Students from Normandy and Riverview Gardens are free to transfer to any other district they choose, but would have to find their own transportation.