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St. Louis schools lose accreditation; students protest in Jefferson City

Students at Thursday's meeting, protesting a move to take over control of the St. Louis School District (KWMU photo/Adam Allington)
Students at Thursday's meeting, protesting a move to take over control of the St. Louis School District (KWMU photo/Adam Allington)

By Adam Allington & Marhsall Griffin, KWMU


Jefferson City, Mo. – The state school board voted Thursday to strip accreditation from the St. Louis school district, minutes after resuming a meeting that was halted by a protest.

Students opposed to the takeover temporarily shut down today's board meeting, and at least one student was handcuffed by police and taken away.

The board resumed the meeting after a brief recess was called to quell the protest.

About three minutes after the first meeting was called to order, several dozen students began chanting "No Takeovers."

Board members immediately adjourned the meeting as they warned they would do if there were any disruptions.

The chanting students moved closer to adjourned board members. One male student who ran outside the Truman Office Building was chased down and handcuffed by Capitol Police and taken to police headquarters.

Superintendent Diana Bourisaw says she is very disappointed with the state's decision, and says she hopes the new board won't undo the progress they've made.

"We have righted the financial ship," she said Thursday. "We have righted everything, so I hope their initial action will be to support everything the district is currently doing."

DESE Commissioner Kent King says, though, that any progress made has been insignificant, and that the installation of the state-run school board is best for St. Louis's children.

"We think there's money issues in making sure the district can operate, and we've gotta improve it for kids," said King. "And this is the best option we saw and this makes some difference for kids."

The transitional board is set to take over June 15th. Gov. Matt Blunt has already named his choice for the board: Rick Sullivan, chairman of McBride and Sons Management in Chesterfield.

He disclosed his choice just an hour after the State Board of Education announced its decision to remove accreditation for the city school district.

The transitional board will take over the district June 15th. The locally elected board will remain in place but have no power.

The district, with 32,000 students, is Missouri's largest.

It has struggled academically and financially for years.

Mayor Francis Slay said he will announce his pick for the panel sometime next week.

The Aldermanic president will also get to choose a panel member, but out-going president Jim Shrewsbury says he will leave that to his successor Lewis Reed.