This is a curious decision. A federal appeals court ruled that sales taxes intended to fund desegregation programs in the St. Louis public schools must be shared with charter schools, but the charter schools are not required to use the money for desegregation programs.

ST. LOUIS — Charter schools are entitled to sales tax dollars that were intended for desegregation programs in St. Louis Public Schools, according to an appeals court ruling Thursday.

The ruling from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals follows a 50-year-old school desegregation lawsuit that resulted in a settlement in 1999. As part of the settlement, SLPS received a portion of a special sales tax to fund desegregation programs including full-day kindergarten, magnet schools and busing students to county districts.

The first charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run, opened in St. Louis in 2000. A change to the state’s education funding formula in 2006 has diverted more than $50 million from SLPS to charter schools, district lawyers argued.

The school district filed a motion in 2016 seeking to force the state to send all the sales tax revenue to SLPS. A federal judge ruled in favor of the state in 2020, as long as charter schools were offering desegregation programs. The district appealed, leading to Thursday’s decision, which also removed charter schools’ requirement to use the tax dollars for desegregation programs.