Students may now have to return to Riverview

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - For the parents of transfer students, arguably the most important part of the bill aimed at fixing the transfer law, is the part that eliminates the requirement for unaccredited districts to pay for transportation.

Last summer we introduced you to Shammara Smith and her two children: Ahmon and Ahmiyah. They live in Dellwood and ride the bus for 45 minutes to their new schools in Oakville.

"I asked them did they want to return. They said yes, definitely that they wanted to return to Mehlville," Smith said. "They love their class. They love their friends."

She told them before school started that the work would be harder, and she says they've excelled.

"Way better education. And I think that's one of the reasons why my children wanted to return," said Smith.

But that might not happen. If Gov. Jay Nixon signs the bill on its way to his desk, unaccredited districts, including Riverview Gardens and Normandy, would no longer be required to pay for transportation to neighboring districts. However, they could opt to.

"I have transportation, but I work. My shift is seven to four. Of course I cannot drop them off at six in the morning. And they get out of school at 2:50. I have no way to drop them off or pick them up," said Smith.

So the door that opened to what she believes is a better education for her children, may be closing.

"I don't want to have that conversation with either of them because they were so excited about going back this year," she said.

Some lawmakers, including Rep. Genise Montecillo, are also frustrated that this didn't go through until the 11th hour.

"If you notice, in this last week, we've had a lot of very serious issues coming up. And that's unfortunately what happens when we should have been taking the time and really getting this right," she said.

Riverview Gardens' director of communications, Melanie Powell-Robinson, released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

"Riverview Gardens School district is reviewing the bill at this time, but we are awaiting a response from the governor before making any financial decisions. Our focus remains on all students in our community. Both those in the transfer program and those who have chosen the district as their academic provider."


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