Missouri lawmaker to revive failed student transfer bill; wants building accreditation

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JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri — A Missouri lawmaker is drafting legislation to allow individual accreditation for schools in a district, a move aimed at allowing students to transfer from poorly performing schools to others within their districts that are doing well.

Rep. David Wood, a Republican from Versailles, said he plans to file the bill in December and hopes it will give more flexibility to schools and parents.

Students in unaccredited districts now must apply to transfer outside their districts. Wood said his way is better.

"We need to take that building by building," Wood said.

The measure was part of a package of education legislation that failed last session. Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed that bill, which he said would have forced unaccredited public schools to pay for students to attend private schools.

Wood said breaking the bill into smaller chunks might help less contested aspects pass. Republican leaders have said legislation dealing with student transfers likely will resurface in the session that starts in January.

Previously vetoed bills might have better chances of becoming law in the upcoming session. Republicans have even greater numbers and veto-proof majority in both chambers, so lawmakers can pass legislation knowing they can override opposition from the Democratic governor.

Still, some education groups are hesitant to support the bill as it is drafted.

Brent Ghan, spokesman for the Missouri School Boards' Association, said accrediting individual buildings could pose challenges, particularly for districts with only one elementary, middle school and high school.

"How would the student transfer and other provisions related to unaccredited districts apply in such a case?" Ghan said in an email. "Perhaps the bill will address those issues, so we'll have to see it before we take a position on it."


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