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KATC INVESTIGATES: LPSS changing the policy for school fee collection

Posted at 9:55 PM, Nov 13, 2018
and last updated 2019-08-14 18:25:23-04

The Lafayette Parish School Board is changing its policy when it comes to school fees.

In August, KATC uncovered that for the 2017-18 school year the Lafayette schools collected more than $119,000 in excess fees. Edgar Martin, Judice Middle, Acadiana High, and Lafayette High collected the most, each with more than $10,000. That money wasn’t spent in the classroom and was moved to each school’s general fund.

Assistant Superintendent of Administration, Joe Craig, says new changes are being implemented.

“So back when the original story came out in August or September, we sat with all of our principals and said you need to look at all of your student fees. If you’re collecting money that’s not being spent on those students you need to back off on those fees, Craig said.

While some teachers have stopped collecting fees altogether, Craig says that others have until March to plan ahead and spend all the money they need.

“Moving forward from this past story, by March, if those fees aren’t spent we need to look at refunding the money to those parents. If a parent hasn’t paid at that point, we are not going to collect a fee that late in the year,” Craig explained.

Jonathan Cole, A high school teacher and the president of the Lafayette Parish Association of educators says he doesn’t charge a fee for his class, but he believes fees should be done away with.

“We understand that the board and the system want to reimburse parents, but it’s going to be a challenge. What we’d like to see ultimately is that the school board fully fund materials of instruction money. In other words, that they basically supply the supplies that our students need and our teachers need to be successful,” Cole said.

Cole says though it is a work in progress and he agrees thousands of dollars going into the general fund isn’t the best idea. He says the students and their families shouldn’t be held responsible.

“The school board has set a tone of saying a free and appropriate education and teachers I think are on board with something like that. The idea that the school system provides money for teachers to purchase supplies that they would need in bulk for their kids in their classroom,” Cole said.

Craig says principals do have the right to keep students from attending homecoming and prom if their fees aren’t paid. Students cannot be kept from graduation or any other mandatory field trips.