Senate panel votes to let unaccredited schools pay for private schooling

As proposed, tenured teachers also could be fired

By Chris Mathews

JEFFERSON CITY — The Senate Education Committee approved a measure Thursday that would provide public-school funding for students from unaccredited schools to attend nonreligious private schools.

The measure also would allow the governing board of an unaccredited district to terminate the contracts of school staff, including tenured teachers.

Under current law, a student attending an unaccredited district has the right to transfer to a nearby accredited public school. The unaccredited district is required to pay the tuition costs for the transfer.

Under the Senate Education Committee’s plan, a district with no accredited school would be required to pay at least some of the tuition costs for a student who chose to attend a private, nonreligious school.

In addition, the committee plan would give the unaccredited school district power to fire school staff, including tenured teachers and administrators.

The measure also would restrict what critics call “social promotion.” It would require more intensive teaching plans and efforts for students who had reading skills below their grade levels.

The committee chairman, Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, said the bill could come up for full Senate debate as early as Tuesday.