ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Board of Education has filed a lawsuit in an effort to stop a newly proposed charter school from opening.
The lawsuit contends wrongdoing not only on behalf of organizers behind the charter school, but also of the Missouri State Charter School Commission and Missouri State Board of Education.
An Indianapolis-based group has been pushing for a charter high school known as “Believe STL Academy” in the City of St. Louis.
Missouri state law requires that new charter school applicants provide a copy of their application to a local school board within five days of filing their application with the state. The lawsuit contends that the organizers behind Believe STL Academy did not follow this procedure, but claimed in their application to the state that they had.
According to the lawsuit, the Charter School Commission held a hearing and approved an application without consulting with the SLPS Board. The lawsuit contends that, based on state law, the SLPS Board should have had an opportunity to review the application and determine whether it objected to the new school’s approval.
In a special meeting just before the state board was set to consider final approval, the SLPS Board voted unanimously to object the application, based on the grounds that the applicants and sponsors did not follow state law.
On Oct. 17, the State Board of Education approved the application without acknowledging previous violations of the SLPS board’s objection. The lawsuit accuses the state of “rubber stamping” a recommendation from the Charter School Commission.
SLPS cited decreasing population and enrollment numbers at local schools, in addition to St. Louis City’s moratorium on any new schools as reasons behind their objection.
“State officials and the operators of this proposed school ignoring the law, and the very real impact that adding yet another school will have on our city’s children,” said SLPS Board President Toni Cousins. “There are too many schools in St. Louis right now. If this charter doesn’t go out of business, another almost certainly will. Either way, a group of families and kids will be the ones to suffer, stuck looking for a new school with almost no notice.”
A petition was filed Thursday in the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court of St. Louis. It asks the courts to stop the process currently underway to open Believe STL Academy.