- Associated Press - Friday, May 6, 2016

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Parents, students and graduates of a St. Louis-area school district are making the case for shedding an unaccredited designation, which allows students to transfer to better-performing schools.

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education officials heard Thursday from backers of the Riverview Gardens School District, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1SRIeLH ) reports.

Superintendent Scott Spurgeon told dozens of people who gathered at a middle school that he was “confident the work we’ve done is going to be enough to move this district forward.”

The latest state performance reports show that the district was the most improved in the state. For the first time in at least a decade, the district performed well enough to qualify for full accreditation. But the Missouri Board of Education deferred the decision until this summer.

Deidre Brown, a Riverview alumna, said she is an engineer at Boeing. “All because of my education at Riverview,” she said.

High school senior Cameron Johnson said he got a medical internship at Washington University and a chance to study biology in Costa Rica. “I’m standing here as physical, live, living breathing proof,” he said, crediting Riverview for his success.

Riverview used to be the butt of jokes about bad schools in Jefferson City, but not so much anymore, said Rep. Tommie Pierson, D-St. Louis. “This community has suffered long enough. Riverview needs its accreditation back,” he said.

If Riverview regains accreditation, families will lose the option to transfer to an accredited district. The meeting revealed a divide between parents who kept their children at Riverview schools, because they believed they could help improve the district and those who chose to transfer. If the district’s accreditation is upgraded, nearly 540 transfer students would have to return to Riverview Gardens.

“I want her to get the best. If that means I have to leave this district, so be it,” said Zana Mishearon about her daughter, who is a transfer student.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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