St. Louis school districts, parents watching Clayton court case closely

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by Robin Smith / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on March 5, 2012 at 6:08 PM

CLAYTON, Missouri—A court case in Clayton could determine the future of every school distritct throughout the St. Louis area.

The case, Turner vs. the Clayton School District, focuses on whether a child attending an unaccredited school should be able to attend an accredited district for free.

It is viewed by some as a landmark case on the choice parents have when choosing a school for their children.

Most of the time in court on Monday was taken up with lawyers making opening statements.

St. Louis City Public Schools and Clayton Schools fear other parents will follow the lead of the plaintiff and claim the two districts  can not afford to pay for thousands of students from the city to go to Clayton simply because the city is not accredited.

But attorneys for the mother who filed the suit—and lawyers for the state of Missouri - say it is pure speculation that others will follow suit and want to transfer out of the city.

Lawyers for the plaintiff and the state say it is a simple case about one mother who wants the city to pay for her children to go to the Clayton School District.

“As it stands today, the issue from Mrs. Brietenfeld’s position is that

she has a right to have her children attend Clayton school districts

and she does not have to pay the bill,” said attorney Elkin Kistner, who represents the mother and her two children.

But the attorney representing Clayton schools disagreed.

“Clayton’s witnesses will explain how this scenario would be impossible for Clayton in multiple respects. At least $137 million in capitol cost would need to be incured for new buildings and land acquisitions, and Clayton’s operating budget, which currently totals about $50 million, would need to increase by an additional $42 million.”

This is the second time St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge David Lee Vincent III has considered the case.

The last time he ruled in favor of the Clayton and St. Louis Public School Districts

Judge Vincent expects the trial to last until Wednesday.

 

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