FLORISSANT, Mo. – Parents at a Florissant private school are frustrated with the city. Florissant shut down Gateway Legacy Christian Academy, accusing it of not meeting safety codes.
The students had been out of school since December 2022 as the owners tried to meet all the Florissant and fire protection district requirements to reopen.
The new owners moved onto the campus last August, which used to be operated by another school. Parents said Florissant has been moving too slowly and has been dragging its feet in getting needed inspections done.
The city said they found safety violations by the new owners, which led to the school closing. The owner, Melissa Morrison, said it has been a struggle.
“We had our final inspections were going to be right before Labor Day weekend, and that inspection didn’t quite go as planned,” she said. “The inspector wasn’t ready to stay on campus as long as these buildings needed someone to stay on campus to inspect them and was coming back the following week or the next week. Yes, we have been out of school. We have been fully remote out of school since December; we never came back from Christmas break.”
Florissant and the fire district said they found problems with exits, fire alarms that were not up-to-date, and a variety of other safety issues.
“Absolutely not, we’ve not been dragging our feet. We’ve actually been trying to work with Gateway,” said Florissant Mayor Timothy Lowery. “We’ve tried to get these kids in these buildings and certainly get them back to school, so certainly we are not dragging our feet. We’re trying to do everything we can to help them out—getting these buildings up to code and getting these kids back in there.”
The city has allowed the school to reoccupy one building. According to the city, the building complied with all safety regulations. Other buildings on campus are unable to be occupied.
“They don’t have a fire alarm system, … in and out of the buildings, a lot of electrical issues serious issues,” Lowery said. “I can tell you that if we allowed those kids to stay in those buildings and a fire would happen. That would be a news story. We cannot allow those kids in those buildings until they’re up to code.”
Morrison said they followed the rules and wanted the building to be as safe as possible. She said she just wants to get back on track.
“It’s been quite the struggle, but it’s just our desire to open up the buildings, work with the city,” Morrison said. “Work with the fire department, work with the mayor, and see kids’ lives change. That’s what we care about.”