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Francis Howell Addresses Potential Normandy Student Transfers

Many questions were raised about how the district will handle the influx of students. Few will be answered until just before the first day of school, which for students in the Francis Howell district is Aug. 8.

The Francis Howell School District listened Thursday night to concerns about transfer students from Normandy. Photo Credit: Jared Grafman
The Francis Howell School District listened Thursday night to concerns about transfer students from Normandy. Photo Credit: Jared Grafman

Test scores. Overcrowded classrooms. The district's value — in measurable dollars and residents' way of living — and security. These are just a few of the issues raised Thursday night in the packed standing-room-only gym of Francis Howell Central High School. 

The Francis Howell School District met with parents, students and residents in attendance at a public town hall forum to "provide information and address questions regarding the recent student transfer decision upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court," according to the event description listed online.

But, simply put, the issue is preparation. 

The biggest concern about the situation facing the Francis Howell district, and the St. Charles community, is being prepared for the students that will transfer into Howell schools on the first day of school, Aug. 8, less than one month away.

Many questions were raised about how the district will handle the influx of students.

"We need answers," a resident said. "And we're not getting them from you."

"I would love to give you answers," Francis Howell School District Superintendent Pam Sloan responded. "I do not have them. We do not know, sitting here today, how many students we will have."

"How many spots do we have?"

"We have approximately 1,000 spots available today," Sloan replied. The district does not know how many enrollment spots will be filled by Francis Howell students, and how many of those will be filled by students transferring from unaccredited schools.

The issue facing the Francis Howell School District arose after Normandy School District, which is currently unaccredited, announced it will provide busing for students within its district that choose to enroll at a Francis Howell school. 

A recent state supreme court ruling, in Breitenfeld v. Clayton, determined Mo. law mandates that accredited school districts throughout St. Louis admit any student residing in an unaccredited school district. 

The ruling applies to two unaccredited districts in St. Louis — Riverview Gardens and Normandy — and has been a hot topic around schools throughout the area. That law might change soon with Senate Bill 125, delivered to Governor Jay Nixon on May 22 but yet to been signed into law, which might change the laws regarding school accreditation. 

But it is only a possibility for now, with the Missouri legislature out of session, and St. Charles District 105 Representative Mark Parkinson said that Nixon is the only person with the authority to call them into a special session. Residents wanting to contact elected government officials can look up their own elected representatives by going to the Missouri General Assembly's website and entering their address on the Legislator Lookup page.

Until the law changes, school districts all across Missouri will need to abide by the Missouri Supreme Court's ruling. 

Other districts faced with similar situations, like Rockwood, have taken similar steps to prepare for the additional students

Both Riverview Gardens and Normandy began accepting applications for student transfers at the beginning of July. Parents have until the close of business on Aug. 1, 2013 to apply for a transfer. 

By Aug. 2, Sloan said, Francis Howell will know how many students will transfer into the district and which schools those children will attend.

Regardless of the concerns raised by their parents, children already enrolled in the school district will welcome the new students.

Eric Lee, senior class president at Francis Howell High, and Gavin Galanes, captain of the school's cross country team, offered a voice for Howell students.

"We would just like to say that we haven't had a lot of students here today," Lee said. "And we'd like to, as representatives of the student body at Francis Howell, say that we are happy to have these new students at our school. We think it will be a good opportunity. We think that, I don't think we can assume Normandy kids are going to be problems."

"Everyone I've talked to, no one's opposed to it," Galanes continued. "Everyone's excited about the new people coming and the opportunities that are going to be provided to them. Everyone here, no one has asked how the kids will feel about this. We understand that we're kids, and we're not the ones paying taxes, but we are the ones that are going to see them every day."

Ann Learner July 12, 2013 at 05:45 AM
This is a situation that no one asked for and it has generated anger. It is not going away and the school year is too close to make legal changes before school starts. If the FH community organizes NOW to welcome the new students, the start of school will be less chaotic for all the students. If YOU volunteer NOW to help out in the schools there will be less need to worry that there won't be enough attention paid to the students, or that the students grades will suffer. If parents turn their anger on the school district and fail to help, the resident children will suffer. If parents pull children out of FH, there will be more spaces available. The FH community has worked together to build new schools,to raise test scores,to rebuild after tornadoes. FH faced challenges and is proud of what has been accomplished. Now if the FH community works together this new year can be a good one for all the students. The St Louis County school districts that have had busing and stayed in their houses and worked with their schools are doing just fine. Their property values are as good as any in this economy, their test scores are fine and their children are safe. FH can do this too. JOIN THE FH COMMUNITY AND VOLUNTEER TO HELP MAKE THIS A GOOD YEAR.
Freedom for all July 12, 2013 at 09:34 AM
Who in the hell are you? Your obviously one vs 1000s that are against this. Do your kids even go to Francis Howell schools? This is being forced down our throats and we do not want it. Your non-sense of " it's going to happen just accept it" we don't have to accept it. We will fight it until it is stopped. We do not want this for our children or our community. I have a great idea Ann move to Normandy and help the students there. There are plenty if houses and you can go on your crusade there.
b.l.p July 12, 2013 at 11:41 AM
They forced this busing issue while I was in California and it was a major disaster!!! It will end up the same here!!!
jenny July 12, 2013 at 11:56 AM
If my kids were in that district I'd be livid. I was in the fh district and I'm so glad I'm out now and that my niece will now be going to fz. I'm sure they're not all bad but a lot are. I wouldn't be surprised if pregnancy and violence went up while the test scores plummet. Those teachers need to demand a raise
Mary D July 12, 2013 at 01:23 PM
If my child had not already been pulled out of these schools because of lack of handling or taking responsibility for students for bullying. I assure you it would happen now. Those kids are thugs. and you just wait. This is going to be the worst thing that has ever happened to this school district. If you care about your kids take them out now!
Ann Learner July 12, 2013 at 01:55 PM
Normandy students are not moving to FH; they will just be bused to school there similar to the 30 yr old deseg program. The guess is that there will be about 600 spaces available to Normandy students in FH ( 1000 current opening minus the hundreds of resident students who historically register before school starts ) There are 17,000 students. That is 3.5 students per 100 or about 1 student to a classroom. @Freedom for all and the others, I am white and lived in Normandy from '71-92 and my children attended Jefferson Elementary from '86-92. I also worked at Normandy SH in 1971, where the white kids (the overwhelming majority) beat up the Blacks (a very small minority) and the "long hairs". I would not have sent my kids to the JR or SH in 1970, but the problem was not the Blacks. I watched Northwoods empty in a year, yet Pasadena Hills is still mixed some 40 years later. Black don't cause a drop in property values, the stampede of frightened whites does. Can you find a neighborhood in St Louis Co that now has lower property values, or a school district that is struggling to maintain its scores because Blacks are being bused in? There were rough starts for some district in the deseg program, but some 15 district are still choosing to be in the program years after being released from the court order. In fact, in 2004, when Clayton was considering if they should stay, 600 HS students signed a petition demanding to continue with the program I was at the FH Town Hall meeting last night. There is a mix of opinions in the district and not all FH residents are fear mongers or racists, just like not all Normandy kids are behind or dangerous. There are large numbers who plan to work to see that ALL the students get a good education at FH in a welcoming environment. If all the whites stopped running you would have livable neighborhoods and quality, diverse schools. Fear is not going to help the children of FH. If the FH community works together now to make this as smooth as possible it will benefit all the children.
Ann Learner July 12, 2013 at 02:03 PM
Mary, just saw your post. Sorry about the situation with your child. If some of the FH schools have a bullying problem before now, it is important the the FH community get to work to support character education and anti-bullying programs.
Guy July 12, 2013 at 02:19 PM
We need to stop this and how we do it, is organize! We form a group of parents and other interested people and we fight! Our nation and our state is in shambles because of our inaction. Many of us have not taken a stand for what's right, now we have a major problem that must be resolved in our favor for our children's sake. If a group has already been organized please post the contact info here, if not I would be happy to help organize a group. Times short, let's get to it!
mark July 12, 2013 at 02:33 PM
I moved out here in 1993. I came from Florissant. My sons went to a school district that bused students in. This was a very expensive non-productive waste of taxpayer funds. Violence increased and excuses for their extremely bad behavior was put forward by the school district. Rather then biting the head of the snake they allowed it to control the situation . I moved there in 1958 & by the time I moved in 1993 the whole north county area was used as a dumping ground, for section 8 housing. North city moved right up halls ferry & bellfontaine roads. The long term results was all the malls & alot of the shopping areas have become unsafe or out of business. It is time to stop being pc and point out why we have so much crime in the st. louis area. 7 or 8 out of crimes are committed in the area that are reported on the news are committed by the black population. I watched property value in n.c. go in the toilet. The value of n.c. real estate has become sad This issue could be the opening of the largest mistake since the destruction of n.c.. Watch how long it takes for the latest white flight away from the f.n. area. Expect a large increase in homes put up for sale in our area. I graduated in 1970 from hazelwood central at that time I believe the only school the cheerleaders were not allowed to attend was sporting events at normandy h.s.. Do you really believe that 43 years later these students have a better sense of values. They were afraid to address the behavior problems then do you really believe it will be any better at this time. All the students in our district now will be subjected to their undesired actions. The school will make excuses for their bad behavior because they will dont want to be accused of being racist( what a ace to to use any time you dont get your way). This will be at the expense of the students of local taxpayer families Watch the real estate section of the newspaper and see how many new listings that will be coming. If you wait long enough you will be stuck like the people still in n.c.. A house that has little value and hard to sell at this point in your life. So you will live surrounded by violence and crime. Far all of you that said last night that you accept this with open arms, I say you never lived in n.c. and you have ever experienced what so many of us have already gone through.
mark July 17, 2013 at 12:27 PM
MARK How is it that if you stand up for you & your kids rights you are racist. If I wanted to have my kids go to school with the school students from normandy I will move over there(not). So why should my schools get students from the worst school in the st. louis area. There is no positive agenda that we will receive in our area from busing these students here. This is pushed by the liberals who act like they care when in reality they suffer from white guilt. I worked for every thing I have . I got no assistance from the government . I worked hard and worked all the overtime I was offered That is how you get ahead. A great slogan to live by (LIBERALISM: moochers electing looters to steal from PRODUCERS) END OF STORY
Freedom for all July 18, 2013 at 09:30 AM
Saturday caught the small crowd’s attention. Not because they were purple, but because so many seats were empty at a time when perhaps the Normandy School District needs them filled the most. The event at Barack Obama Elementary was supposed to be a “community conversation” about school safety. About 20 people showed up, and only a few of them were parents. In 2012, Normandy High School reported 285 discipline incidents — such as assaults, drugs and weapons — that resulted in out-of-school suspension, a rate of more than one for every four students, the highest among high schools in the region. At the start of the gathering, Superintendent Stanton Lawrence, who is leaving at the end of the school year to go home to Texas, said there should have been a standing-room-only crowd. Then, he launched into a presentation about how a quarter of students caused 100 percent of the 1,729 suspensions so far this school year. He said most of the problems start as troubling seeds planted outside school walls. “It’s not the responsibility of the school alone, but of the community,” Lawrence said.
Freedom for all July 18, 2013 at 09:32 AM
By and large, the problems at Normandy High involve arsons and fights with minor injuries. There are a few exceptions: • On March 12, four males — three of them Normandy High School students — were arrested after a parent saw them exchanging guns in the school parking lot. • On Dec. 26, a 19-year-old was hospitalized after being hit in the head with a gun in Viking Hall during the Normandy Holiday Basketball Tournament, according to the Northeast Fire Protection District. • On Oct. 21, 2011, Damontae Woods, 18, suffered a heart rupture in an encounter with security officer James Walls after Woods was caught loitering in the hallway and being late to class, officials said. Woods is now awaiting a heart transplant, said his attorney, Bob Herman. The last incident was one of several both at the Normandy high school and middle school in which security guards have been accused in lawsuits of assaulting students. On some days at the high school, as many as five fights break out in hallways and classrooms, according to students and teachers. Even an incident of horseplay has been deadly. On April 11, freshman Marquez Oliver died after a classmate punched him in the chest and sent him into cardiac arrest. “We had no incidents today,” Nicholas said, watching through the windows of the principal’s office as students left the six buildings that make up the Normandy High School campus. “I consider that a great day for us.” Nicholas said his requests that the district hire additional security guards were never granted. By April 1, police and fire crews were called to Normandy High School 83 times this school year, according to the incident log provided by the school district. That list, however, excluded about a dozen calls to the Northeast Ambulance & Fire Protection District, including the assault at the basketball game. Wellston Police did not respond to a reporter’s request for a log of service calls made from the high school.
Freedom for all July 18, 2013 at 09:36 AM
Here it comes. Be prepared. When the police and school say students are taking over their homes and classrooms. How do you think a teacher at Francis Howell!! Will handle this. They won't. 285 incidents in one school year, 1-4 students the school and police say. The school year isn't even 285 days, more than 1 per DAY. It's been great living here but time to get my children out of here.
Msjonas July 23, 2013 at 09:51 AM
This is terrible. I hope none of you are christians speaking like this. Not everyone in Normandy School District is violent or a thug. I am utterly floored at what people are saying about the black community. People say racism does not exist. Well, here it is, and it is very sad, because I am sure the parents at (FH) who are upset about this transition, express it to their children which is going to create some preconceived notions for the children coming to (FH). How about give them a chance before you begin to pass judgment. Do I agree that there are issues in the black community. Yes! But as you can see we have an issue in the white community as well. I pray for the parents and kids in both districts.
jenny July 23, 2013 at 10:20 AM
I'm so sick of the race card being pulled out at every situation. Get your FACTS straight before you get all Godly on everyone. Its a fact that the violence and stupidity/laziness at that school is at an outrageous level. It just sucks that the, maybe, handful of good students are being put in that school. No one can blame these parents for not being overly liberal when it comes to their child's education. They chose to not live in Normandy for a reason
Msjonas July 23, 2013 at 11:34 AM
Listen to what you are saying. That "maybe" a handful of good students are being put in that school. I am sure there "are" good students that attend the school and for whatever reason they are in the district who knows, but I do believe everyone deserves a chance. I am not from the St. Louis area. I live in Illinois and work in St. Louis, and I get that there is a lot of crime that may happen more often in one area than the other, but does it occur at all that maybe some of the kids want a fair chance, that maybe they are glad to be able to attend a school with less violence. Some are their only because they have to be. We do not know the circumstances as to why they can't move to a different district. I can understand parents concerns about their child's education. I am not trying to take that away, but the whole district is not moving, and I am sure your FH district will continue to make sure all students are treated the same and that they will do their best to provide a safe environment. Please let's not let the majority ruin it for the minority at Normandy that deserve it:)
Tina July 23, 2013 at 06:54 PM
It would be unfair for me to lack understanding for concerns and fears of all parties affected or tied to the Normandy School District student transfer because there are some legitimate issues that must be addressed in order to maintain and continue to deliver a quality education for our children. The impulsive, emotionally charged, biased thought(s) that are formed in our minds should end right there; in your mind. We should challenge ourselves to self-reflect and to be unbiased as we refine our negatively charged thoughts. We need more clean thinking and solution-oriented discussions and while the mindless overstatements and self-serving chatter will continue we really need to focus on filtering the usefulness from the useless information. The absence of self-restraint is grossly immature and has no place in an educational atmosphere and topics about children. While many of us have used media outlets, social media, and town hall meetings, etc. to vent, lets move on to the next step. The door has been opened for many to feel empowered to say mean and hateful things that are directed at children, and it is such a shame that the energy that has fueled these disputes were ignited by fear, outrage, and with all due respect incompetence. There is always a why behind the what and in contrast we, the Francis Howell Residents did not sign up for this and any unwanted or increased large classroom sizes, bullying, , and hostility when we chose to move into the school district to build and grow our families. I get that, but what I don't get is this loser mentality, and succumbing to the idea that everything that this community has built will be destroyed because our schools will be shared with underprivileged children. Lets talk about winning. The Normandy Students are being far too dehumanized and they do deserve a chance and the outcome of their success will be a gift that keeps on giving... I believe in our successful school system and a quality school system just can't break that easy.
mark July 23, 2013 at 07:04 PM
Msjonas keep your a-s out of our affairs . Are you proud to live in probably the most corrupt state in the country. If so why would the entire state be referred to as chicago politics. You must be stupid if you think I believe you would like to have the east st. louis thug students bused in to your school district . The big question is why should they leave normandy when the teachers make more money they have one of the largest campus around. Like riverview normandy has been ripped off by the black school administrations . This is just another case of black on black crime. This is really bad when you steal from the students that you represent. Another thing when you transfer from one fh school to another fh school all your records go with you. Why do these students not have to provide all their records good or bad. If this is forced on us we deserve to know each students background good or bad(I mean our schools should have this information before one student sets foot in any of our school)s. You talk about being a Christian I am and I give a lot to charities but I also believe in charity starts at home and take care of yours first. Out here most of the parents attend teacher conferences and know what is going on in the schools. The attendance at the meeting at fhc had standing room only and some had to stand outside. Yet I hear the attendance at their meeting was not so heavily attended and I don't know for sure but I don't imagine there is any more attendance at the teacher conferences . You reap what you sow
Guy December 17, 2013 at 07:33 AM
Some of you that are bleeding heart liberal pukes disgust me!

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