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State high court sends second school transfer case back for review

(via Flickr/cayoup)

The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that the Webster Groves School District in suburban St. Louis County does not have to admit a student from the unaccredited St. Louis Public Schools.

Tuesday's ruling also sent the case - King-Willmann v. Webster Groves School District - back to the trial court, saying "contested issues of fact" had not been resolved.

Sherrill King and Keith Willmann tried to enroll their daughter, Jordan King-Willmann, in high school in Webster Groves, citing a contested state law that allows students to transfer from unaccredited districts to ones that are accredited. The trial court ruled in favor of the parents without holding an evidentiary hearing that the Webster Groves schools requested.

Webster Groves officials contended that King-Willmann did not live within SLPS boundaries and that she had not completed the school work needed to enroll in 9th grade. District officials also offered several defenses, including that enrolling King-Willmann was a violation of the Hancock Amendment, which prohibits unfunded mandates.

The Supreme Court ruling requires the trial court to hear evidence on King-Willmann's eligibility to enroll in Webster Groves, but prohibits the district from using the Hancock Amendment defense, saying that the district is not a taxpayer.

The ruling does not impact a trial currently underway in St. Louis County that challenges the school transfer law itself.

Hear Maria Altman's piece on the potential impacts of the so-called "Turner" case.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.