Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

In Documentary, Ex-Board Member Explores Normandy Schools' Decline

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

In Documentary, Ex-Board Member Explores Normandy Schools' Decline

Article excerpt

NORMANDY * A former member of the Normandy School Board has produced a 67-minute documentary that raises questions about who is responsible and accountable for the decades-long decline that resulted in the district falling under state control last summer.

Throughout the film, "The Dismantling of the Normandy School District," Terry Artis shows footage of parents and community members questioning the intent of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as the district buckled under the financial pressure of the school transfer law. It also shows Artis accusing state education officials of racial bias as they determined the course of the district, whose students are primarily black and low-income.

But Artis places the blame of Normandy's demise on one person: himself.

"I'm to blame first and foremost," he says into the camera.

Artis graduated from Normandy High in 1982, when its student body was more economically and racially diverse. After he got married, he and his wife bought a house in Hanley Hills, one of 24 municipalities in the north St. Louis County school system.

But they never sent their daughter to Normandy schools, which were struggling. Instead, they sent her to elementary school in the University City and Winfield school districts, where Artis' wife worked at the time. Later, they rented an apartment in St. John so their daughter could go to Ritenour Middle School in the neighboring Ritenour district. Two years ago, she graduated from the prestigious Metro Academic and Classical High School in St. Louis.

"I just sat there and paid my taxes," Artis said an interview. "I didn't do anything to change the condition of my school district. I should have been the activist, the reformer. I just let it go. A lot of it rests on me. A lot of it does."

He didn't get involved until he ran for School Board in 2013. …

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