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SJSD Board votes to eliminate open enrollment, new policy starts next school year

The St. Joseph School District's Board of Education voted Monday night to eliminate open enrollment across the district.

Posted: Jan 28, 2020 11:08 PM
Updated: Jan 29, 2020 9:51 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) St. Joseph School District students entering high school for the first time will no longer have an option of attending either Benton, Central or Lafayette. The Board of Education voted Monday to eliminate the open enrollment changing a long-standing policy. 

Starting in 2020-2021 school year, students living inside the boundary of the closest high school will attend that school. 

"I've never heard of it really in the state of Missouri," SJSD Superintendent Doug Van Zyl said. "There are some states that just have complete open enrollment. Missouri is not one of them. I've talked to DESE (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education). They don't know of any other districts in Missouri besides Springfield and Springfield has a modified component of open enrollment."

Van Zyl said Tuesday morning that the board voted to make a change because of past issues, more so, with students attending a school based on athletics. He added that he heard from board members and others that the open enrollment has caused issues with MSHSAA (Missouri State High School Activities Association).

"Somebody from one school would call and say, 'did you know that this person transferred to this school and it was for athletic reasons or they were being recruited to this school?'" Van Zyl said. "Which is a violation of MSHSAA guidelines, so we hear a little bit more about that, but they (students) still have the opportunity to make some moves or adjustments on the academic side of it."

Van Zyl added that students can still transfer if there is a valid academic reason for doing so. He said the policy will not change anything for current high school students in the district. The rule change will begin with this year's eighth grade class heading to high school. 

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