Desegregation rule forces first grader from school mid-year

6:57 PM, Dec 4, 2012   |    comments
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By Tracy Clemons

St. Louis County (KSDK) - A St. Louis County parent is fighting back against the desegregation law because it's forcing her young daughter to change schools mid-year.

Denise Brenna's daughter, Grace, is a first grader at St. Louis Language Immersion School, but the school is kicking her out because of the color of her skin and where she lives.

The school sent a letter home with Grace on Monday saying she'd no longer be eligible to attend after December 17 because she lives in the county.

"I cried because my daughter has thrived at that school and loves it and has made many friends because of the diverse group of children that are there," Brennan said.

She and her husband, who are Caucasian, adopted Grace, who is black.

"We were very forthcoming with all of our information, provided our county address. And then we had to fill out information that asked for Grace's ethnic background. It was all submitted and everything was fine," said Brennan.

And more than a year later, the school says it followed orders from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, or DESE, to dismiss Grace to comply with the desegregation rule from the 1980s. Black students from the city can go to county schools, but black students from the county cannot go to city schools.

"DESE provides information to help us verify if there's a discrepancy between a student who should be properly enrolled in the school versus the residential data that they provide," said SLLIS Board of Directors Steven Sanchez.

He says somehow Grace slipped through the cracks.

"Honestly, last year's situation is what we're looking into and trying to go through our processes and do an audit of what occurred on our side last year. Certainly this year as soon as DESE notified us of the discrepancy, we acted upon it," said Sanchez.

Brennan says the rule should be re-evaluated.

"I just want this to change or be looked into further so that other kids and parents don't have to go through this heartache of ripping their child out of their daily stable environment," she said.

Grace's family has offered to pay tuition to keep her in the school, but the school says it is not eligible to accept that tuition payment because of state regulations.


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