Local educators praise Nixon's veto of student transfer bill

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COLUMBIA - Local educators are applauding Gov. Jay Nixon for vetoing a controversial student transfer bill, while some legislators are voicing their frustrations. 

HB 42 was aimed at revamping school district accreditation and the state's student transfer system. 

Though Columbia is just one of 518 districts in the state, Columbia Public School Superintendent Peter Stiepleman said public education is about the success of all schools. 

"HB 42 was going to potentially penalize some of our schools, so it just didn't make sense," Stiepleman said. 

 Stiepleman said the bill would have resulted in unnecessary state intervention. 

"When obstacles present themselves, the first thing a local community should do is come together and see if they can solve it themselves," he said.

Stiepleman said this veto shows Nixon listens to educators around the state. 

In a press release, Nixon said the bill failed to solve the problems of unaccredited school districts in the St. Louis region.

"It mandated expensive voucher schemes, neglected accountability and skirted the major, underlying difficulties in the transfer law, while creating a host of potential new problems for districts across the state," Nixon said in a statement.

Nixon canceled a news conference because of inclement weather in Springfield to announce the veto, but later spoke at Ritenour High School in St. Louis.

The governor's office notified Rep. David Wood, R-Versailles, of the veto Thursday afternoon. The 58th District Representative said he spent over a year negotiating this particular piece of legislation.

"There's a lot of good legislation in this bill that's not elsewhere," Wood said.

Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, said he was disappointed with the governor's decision.

"With the governor's veto, I think we as a state really turned our backs on unaccredited schools," he said.

Pearce, who is the Senate Education Chairman, sponsored a similar measure in 2014 that Nixon also vetoed.

"The governor is evidently content on keeping the status quo," he said.

Aurora Meyer with The Missouri State Teachers Association said the group is eager to move beyond this bill and work toward better education for students across the state.

"What happened in St. Louis shows that when given the opportunity, local control works and that when school districts are allowed to work together, they can come up with the best outcome for their students," she said.

Pearce said the bill was one of the top priorities for legislators during both sessions. He said he hopes the legislature will vote to override Nixon's veto of HB 42 in September.