ST. LOUIS, Mo. – On Tuesday, two families, representing St. Louis’ charter school population, filed a motion in federal court that would allow them to intervene as plaintiffs in a motion filed by the Saint Louis Public Schools Special Administrative Board (SAB).
The SAB are plaintiffs in the lawsuit seeking to keep a 2/3 cent sales tax, used to fund a desegregation settlement reached in 1999, from being used to fund public charter schools in the city. To date, these schools have received $42 million from that tax and are slated to continue to receive $8 million a year.
The NAACP was a plaintiff in the original desegregation lawsuit from 1972 and remains listed on the suit because the SAB action is tied to the judgment from that case, reached in 1999.
The Missouri Charter Public School Association has been pushing for the SAB to drop the lawsuit, arguing it will hurt charter public schools that provide quality education options for the city’s families.
“We are confident that Judge Autrey will understand the importance of having the voice of charter public school parents and students in this litigation since the final impact could negatively impact their chosen public schools,” said Douglas Thaman, the association’s executive director. “I am hopeful this intervention by charter public school parents and children will encourage SLPS to recognize how irresponsible it is to try and shut down a sector of public schools that has so clearly contributed to the number of quality education options available to Saint Louis families. It would make so much more sense if we were all working together to continue improving public education. Our hope is they will do the right thing and drop the suit.”
The motion to intervene was filed on behalf of Ken Ross, Jr. and LeDiva Pierce. They reason that all charter public school parents and students have a clear interest in ensuring charter public schools stay open and receive equitable funding for the foreseeable future.
“Given the clear interest of Charter Public School Parents and Children in the educational funding and education opportunities that charter public schools provide in the City of Saint Louis, this Court should permit the Charter Public School Parents and Children to intervene,” the motion says.
Ross says his family has benefited from his charter school education and he doesn’t want to see that option hurt by a decrease in funding.
“My son is thriving at his charter school. It will be a tragedy for him, his brother who will be entering kindergarten in the Fall, for all children and the City if SLPS is successful is draining resources from charter schools,” he said. “SLPS is trying to take us back to a time when there were no quality educational options in the City. We just cannot let that happen.”
Pierce echoed Ross’ statements, saying the city has benefited from the charter school system.
“I was hoping SLPS would do the right thing and drop the lawsuit. There is still time for them to change their minds,” she said. “In case they don’t, I want to make sure charter school parents and kids have a voice in the matter. Education in the City is much better than it was fifteen years ago. None of us want to see that undone.”
The SAB and the NAACP have two weeks to respond to the motion to intervene.