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State, Riverview Gardens settle suit over education for homeless students

State, Riverview Gardens settle suit over education for homeless students

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Riverview Gardens building

A sign outside Riverview Gardens High School, which serves students from Bellefontaine Neighbors, Moline Acres and elsewhere.

JEFFERSON CITY— Missouri officials and the Riverview Gardens School District in suburban St. Louis have agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by homeless students who claimed officials failed to help them as required by law.

The federal lawsuit, filed in Jefferson City in 2018 on behalf of two students and community groups, said the school district delayed or prevented the students' enrollment, failed to provide them the required transportation to school, pushed some into online alternative programs and disciplined them in a discriminatory fashion.

In a consent decree filed Tuesday, school officials agreed to identify and enroll homeless youth, provide transportation and services for them, and otherwise follow the McKenney-Vento Act, a federal law that guarantees homeless students access to schools. State officials agreed to revise their oversight role.

Court filings identified one student only as Scott and said he couldn't play football because of suspensions and absences caused by his difficulty getting enrolled and getting to school, lawyers said. The suit said he was punished for being late or absent because of his homelessness.

The students, as well as Metropolitan Congregations United and Empower Missouri, were represented by Legal Services of Eastern MissouriPublic Counsel, a pro bono law firm; and the Arnold & Porter law firm.

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