Category: Education

Mar 27

Legal Services of Eastern Missouri Wins Pivotal Case Against Local School District

Luz Maria Henriquez, Lead LSEM Attorney

In one of the first cases of its kind in Missouri, the St. Louis City 22nd Judicial Circuit has approved a settlement with a cash award for a parent when the school district failed to follow the required procedures for suspending a child and for failing to provide an adequate, alternative form of education.  The settlement also provides for the district to change its policies and practices for students similarly disciplined.  The student in the case, a child of color, was put out of school for 125 school days his freshman year and earned zero credits that year.  This action was taken without affording the child his basic due process rights.   

“This case is part of an initiative to ensure that all children receive access to an ‘adequate and quality education’ required by the Missouri Constitution,” stated Luz María Henríquez, lead attorney for Legal Services of Eastern Missouri who represented the family and student.

“Schools are supposed to be treasures in our communities, the places that exemplify the equality of opportunity promised by our Constitution. Instead, research proves that Missouri students of color are treated differently than white students,” continued Ms. Henriquez. 

According to a recent ACLU report, suspended students are less likely to graduate and more likely to be suspended, repeat a grade, or drop out and become involved in the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems. Students who are forced out of school because of suspensions or expulsions are 10 times more likely to drop out, which increases their likelihood of incarceration.

To help address these inequities and break the school-to-prison pipeline, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri sponsors the Education Justice Program that addresses the root causes of education inequity by representing clients, filing formal complaints with the Office of Civil Rights and providing community workshops for families and stakeholders.

The Court-approved settlement agreement also requires the school district to change policies and procedures for students who are disciplined by being placed in a Virtual Learning Program but not allowed to access that program from school.  The school district must closely monitor these students’ progress and to provide additional opportunities to appeal this form of discipline.

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About Legal Services of Eastern Missouri: Legal Services of Eastern Missouri has served more than 1 million families since 1956. Legal Services has four offices in St. Louis, Clayton, Hannibal and Union serving 21 counties in eastern Missouri.

Sep 13

ACT Season Is Here in St. Louis

Get Ready Parents, It’s ACT Season

It’s that time of the year again.  High schoolers are back in class and that means homework, tests, exams, and papers.  For many, the academic year also means the return of college entrance exams.  Across the United States, high schoolers everywhere will be taking the ACT or SAT.  In some cases, students will take both tests.  In St. Louis and throughout Missouri, the ACT is the preferred test which means students are rushing around during these next few months to prepare for the test and get ahead of their peers.  The importance of the ACT test cannot be stressed enough.  If a student suffers from a low GPA or underwhelming high school resume, high ACT scores can play a major role in college acceptance.  Even if a student has a 4.0 and was the president of the student body, competitive colleges will look closely at a student’s test scores.  Given the importance of the ACT test, ACT prep and ACT tutors are not just recommended, they’ve become almost essential to success.  Here’s a breakdown of all things ACT.


All You Need to Know About the ACT Test

The ACT test was first offered in 1959 and aimed at becoming a competitor of the popular SAT test.  For much of the ACT test’s existence, the test played second fiddle to the more popular and widely accepted SAT test.  However, in recent years, the ACT has grown in popularity surpassing the SAT in the number of test takers in 2011.  Today, the ACT closely resembles the SAT featuring a Math, Science, Reading, English, and optional Writing section.  The test is scored from 1 to 36 with 36 being the best possible score.

A 36 is what all students strive for but few achieve this score.  Students are allowed to take the test up to 12 times and can choose to take the test once per academic year or up to six times in a year.  The test is typically administered on Saturdays usually at large high schools, community colleges, and local community centers.  This year, 2017-2018, tests are offered on the following dates: September 9th, October 28th, December 9th, February 10th, April 14th, June 9th, and July 14th.  The September test has come and gone, however, the rest of the dates are still open for registration.  Here’s how to ensure a student can score as close to a 36 as they possibly can.

(Image: ACT)

(Image: ACT)

ACT Test Prep in St. Louis, What to Do?

With a strong base of private high schools and great school districts, the ACT test scene in St. Louis is competitive.  Having a lot of ACT test takers, all of whom want to do well, is both a pro and con.  The downside of this means there are a large amount of well educated high school graduates with solid ACT scores applying to colleges.  The upside to the popularity of the ACT test in St. Louis means there’s no shortage of test prep resources.

Group Study

The first and often least expensive ACT prep resource is a study group.  Study groups can be as casual or as formal as the student or parent would like.  Formal study groups will often be facilitated by a teacher, a local college student, or tutor.  Formal study groups can also be a great way to obtain ACT test resources.  Casual study groups might be beneficial, however, teenagers aren’t the best moderators when placed in groups of their peers.

ACT Classes and Courses

Private high schools in the St. Louis Area do a fantastic job of offering ACT test prep classes that are usually offered to any high school student.  These courses can cost upwards of $200 or even $300 but are usually taught by experienced instructors.  These classes also allow students to obtain a wide array of ACT test prep materials and resources.  Some public schools might offer ACT classes as well though, will likely feature a larger more packed classroom with fewer resources.

The ACT Test Prep Book (Image: ACT)

The ACT Test Prep Book (Image: ACT)

ACT Tutors

The best and most rewarding option is to hire a St. Louis ACT tutor.  One-on-one tutoring facilitated by professional tutors, often formal teachers or professors gives a student uninterrupted and unparalleled access to ACT test prep resources.  Students who at first, take the ACT test without a tutor and then later consult a tutor for later test dates, see the largest jump in scores.  Unfortunately, the best option is also the most expensive option.

Learn more about the ACT Test here.