JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Friday he will veto legislation seeking to overhaul a student transfer law that requires unaccredited school districts to pay for students who want to transfer to better-performing schools.
Nixon said in a statement that the bill Missouri lawmakers passed last week could allow public funds to pay for students to attend private schools. He also said it could lead to further disruption by eliminating a requirement that struggling districts pay transportation costs.
The legislation “fails to address the challenges resulting from the existing school transfer law and instead, would create even more problems by allowing public funds to be used for private schools and pulling the rug out from under students who have transferred,” Nixon said.
Legislators worked to revise the 1993 student transfer law after recent decisions by the state Supreme Court upheld it.
The legislation calls for accreditation of individual schools along with entire districts, and would allow transfers by students who have spent at least one semester at an unaccredited school within an unaccredited district.
Under the plan, students first would move to a better school within their home district. If that option wasn’t available, students could apply to attend school in an accredited district in the same county or a neighboring one, or go to a private school within their home districts.
The private schools portion would apply to unaccredited districts in St. Louis city, St. Louis County and Jackson County, and require that they pay private school tuition using local tax revenues. Local voter approval would be required, though that step would be waived for a school system that has been unaccredited for three consecutive years.
Nixon said previously that parents need options but that the private school choice was the wrong direction.
Student transfers occurred this school year in the suburban St. Louis districts of Riverview Gardens and Normandy, and the financial strain prompted the state to approve funding to ensure Normandy makes it through the current year. The Kansas City district also is unaccredited.