St. Louis resident La’Shieka White, was in shock after learning her son wouldn’t be allowed to attend a neighborhood charter school because of the color of his skin. Her son, Edmund Lee is a 3rd grader at Gateway Science Academy, a charter school in south St. Louis. His family is moving to St. Louis County this year.
According to Missouri state law, some county residents are allowed to attend a city charter school but they must live in a district participating in transfer programs, and cannot be Black.
“When I read the guidelines I was in shock,” said La’Shieka White, Edmund’s mother. “I was crying.”
La’Shieka contacted school officials who said their hands were tied because of the state regulations created decades ago. These regulations were designed to address segregation problems within St. Louis schools. Leaders at Gateway Science Academy believe it’s time to revisit those rules.
“If this helps us start a conversation about maybe some things that could be different with the law, then that is as good thing,” said Assistant Principal Janet Moak.
La’Shieka launched a petition asking lawmakers to take notice of her situation and change the rules that are keeping her child and other children from attending the school of their choice.
She said she has also heard from parents of white students unable to participate in transfer programs for African-Americans.
“I don’t want it to be just about an African-American boy,” said White. “I want it to be about all children.”
Some staff members at Gateway Science Academy have signed White’s petition.
“To not see his face in the halls next year would be extremely sad,” said Tiffany Luis, Edmund’s 3rd grade teacher. “The family is saying they want to stay. I don’t understand why they can’t.”