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Lawmakers consider bill that would protect school districts from liability

Louisiana State Capitol Building
Posted at 8:15 PM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 21:41:27-04

BATON ROUGE — Lawmakers are considering a bill that would protect public school districts in the state from liability during an emergency.

Some parents and advocates for those with disabilities believe they wouldn't be protected under House Bill 59.

Anne Delery McWhorter says her son has autism and an immune deficiency, which puts him more at risk for infection.

"When it comes to removing the potential for civil liability within school systems for gross negligence with the COVID crisis, it's heart-wrenching," said McWhorter.

The bill is being presented amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but if passed, public school districts would be protected during any state of emergency or public health emergency.

"The way that it's structured with the language is a federal emergency crisis, so we are looking at a very overreaching bill that applies for a lot more than the bill authors intended, and so this needs to be cleaned up or rewritten," said McWhorter.

The proposed law has sparked a lot of talk on social media.

Some say school districts shouldn't have to worry about a lawsuit when it's difficult to prove where an infection originates.

McWhorter believes there needs to be a protection in place but thinks this bill needs to be amended in order for it to work.

"So, there really is an opportunity for bipartisan support and effort to come together and revamp the bill," said McWhorter.

We reached out to Representative Buddy Mincey, who's behind the bill, as well as Senator Page Cortez. We didn't hear back as of deadline.

The Lafayette Parish Association of Educators gave us the following statement:

"The Lafayette Parish Association of Educators opposes House Bill 59 because of its potential to cause harm to educators, students, and the community at large. The bill does not include any accountability for school districts who do not provide adequate protections against health threats to their educators and students. People should have the right to hold public institutions accountable."