James V. Shuls, Ph.D.
educational larceny


Larcenist is a strong word to call someone, but that is exactly what Missouri Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-Dist. 14) called parents attempting to secure a good education for their children. The senator, who has otherwise been good on the transfer issue, was referring to parents who moved into the Normandy School District to take advantage of the transfer program, which allowed them to send their children to better schools outside the district. “I think it’s educational larceny for people to move into a community from another community just so they can attend another school,” Chappelle-Nadal said.

The Missouri State Board of Education seems to agree. Earlier this week, the board voted to revoke the transfer right of any individual who was not enrolled in the Normandy School District the year before the transfer law went into effect. Now, more than 130 students who benefited from transferring to higher-performing schools have had that right stripped away.

Among the list of bad decisions the state board has made recently, this is among the worst.

First, I find it highly unlikely that 130 students moved into the district with the intent purpose of taking advantage of the transfer program. Most likely, many already lived in the district, but paid to send their children to private schools or they relocated for various other reasons. This was the case for Diane McCrary and Connie Holtrop. You can read their story in this excellent piece by Elisa Crouch.

Nevertheless, let’s imagine that some families did move to the Normandy School District simply to take advantage of the transfer program. They did not violate any law. They simply made a decision to put their kids into better schools.

Now these families have had that opportunity stripped away because it was good for the district’s bottom line. If any educational larceny has occurred, it took place when the State Board of Education robbed these students of the opportunity to attend good schools.


About the Author

James Shuls
James Shuls

James V. Shuls is an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Missouri–St. Louis and Distinguished Fellow in Education Policy at the Show-Me Institute.