Fed up with his unruly teenager, Dad finally takes away the car keys. That's what the Missouri State Board of Education essentially did, metaphorically speaking, when it voted 5 to 1 in March to strip the failing St. Louis Public Schools of its accreditation and replace the fractious and churlish school board with a three-person appointed committee to run the city's 93 public schools. While it's unclear how many of the district's 35,000 students went out to celebrate the news, the move was a long time coming. The roots of the takeover germinated four years ago, when a newly elected slate of school board members led by ex-St. Louis mayor Vince Schoemehl unloosed a communitywide firestorm by bringing in former Brooks Brothers CEO William Roberti as interim superintendent. By the time Roberti's reign ended in 2004, the district's cumulative debt had reached $25 million, 21 schools had been shuttered and more than 1,400 staffers laid off. (At one point during the raging debate over school closings, then-board member Rochelle Moore placed a voodoo curse on Mayor Francis Slay.) On it went, year after dysfunctional year. In all, a parade of six superintendents have come and gone since 2003 (including one, Floyd Crues, who took an abrupt medical leave from the $220,000-a-year post and hasn't been heard from since). Yep, it was time to take away the keys.