Troubled Normandy school system temporarily kicks out 20 percent of its middle-schoolers

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NORMANDY, Missouri — A financially and academically troubled St. Louis County school system temporarily kicked out 20 percent of its middle-school students last week for disruptive behavior and required their parents to attend meetings before allowing them to return.

The Normandy school system has struggled with a state law that allows students to transfer from unaccredited to accredited school system. Paying for the transfers has left the school system in financial ruin. Class sizes have grown, and its academic performance is the lowest in the state.

Over the summer, the state dissolved the district and replaced it with a state-controlled entity. Although new management replaced 45 percent of staff, discipline problems persisted. A handful of new teachers have resigned, and one middle school teacher sought medical treatment after being hit in the head by a textbook lobbed by a student, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1tPwGgu) reports.

That's why Normandy Middle School Principal GeNita Williams said she called 136 middle-schoolers into the auditorium on Tuesday. She told them that letters had been sent to their parents. First thing the next morning, a crowd of parents filled the school lobby. School administrators asked them to sign behavior and academic contracts outlining what is expected of them, their children and school staff. Students who came back without a parent were sent to the library.

"Many of them were unaware of the behaviors we shared with them," Williams said in her office Thursday, as parents continued to stream into the middle school. "We will take drastic measures to ensure the school is a place where learning and teaching are occurring."

But concerns remain. Eighth-grader Tre'Shon Brown is among the children bringing home stories of teachers who are too nice and classmates who are too disruptive. His mother is worried.

In a year when leaders have promised change in Normandy schools, "I'm not seeing a change as of yet," Dionja Brown said. "This is the last time I'm giving Normandy a chance. I've tried. I've really tried not to give up on Normandy."


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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