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Supreme Court Says Missouri School Transfer Law Is Constitutional

(via Flickr/frankjuarez)

Updated 4:38 p.m. & 5:44 p.m.

The Missouri Supreme Court has upheld a state law that allows students to transfer from unaccredited districts to ones that are accredited.

Today's ruling unanimously overturns the May 2012 opinion of Judge David Vincent, who called the law an unfunded mandate that violated the Hancock amendment. The judges said the Hancock Amendment prohibits the state from shifting costs to local entities, not from one school district to the other. 

The decision Tuesday deals with Gina Breitenfeld who contends the St. Louis Public School District should have footed the bill for her two children to attend Clayton schools.

Breitenfeld’s attorney ElkinKistnersays the ruling will make it difficult for unaccredited and accredited districts to argue against letting children transfer.

“It would be pretty difficult for them to walk into court with a straight face and say ‘these are viable defenses,’ Kistner says. "I won’t say there aren’t districts out there that wouldn’t try to poke around the edges of the Supreme Court’s opinion.”

Clayton School District spokesman Chris Tennill says the district was disappointed with the court’s decision.

“It’s a fundamental issue that needs to be solved not only for students in unaccredited school districts, but also for students in the neighboring accredited ones," Tennill says.

Tennill says the district is reviewing the decision and its options.

With the St. Louis Public School District regaining provisional accreditation, the provisions no longer apply, but the ruling could have a big impact on the Kansas City schools, which lost accreditation last year.

Follow Maria Altman on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.