The Lafayette Parish School Board has approved proposed revisions to the parish's policy regarding student fees.
According to the meeting's public agenda, Act 240 of the 2019 Louisiana legislative session enacted Revised Statute 17:177, dealing with student fees and requiring school boards to adopt a student fee policy that addresses the assessment, collection, and use of fees that are charged to students. The revisions to the fee policy reflect those requirements.
Wording in the fee policy was edited to incorporate a broader definition of fees. Instead of fees being collected to offset costs "incurred in the operation of specific classrooms or subjects," the wording now reads, "associated with classes or class or school activities or enrollment."
In adherence with LA Revised Statute 17:112 (C), schools now cannot withhold report cards or other academic records for failure to pay a fee. Students also cannot be denied access to "any required instructional activity" due to an outstanding fee.
The school board added an "Economic Hardship Fee Waiver/Reduction" to the policy, which allows a student's parent or guardian to request a waiver of payment of a fee. A student must meet the following criteria:
- Student is in foster care or the student's family is caring for children in foster care
- Student is homeless, as defined by law
- Student is an emancipated minor
The revised policy includes a Schedule of Fees for all schools within the Lafayette Parish School System, and the policy states that a particular school may not charge or assess a fee until said fee has been set and included in the Schedule of Fees. That includes fees for school supplies, as the Superintendent will now establish guidelines for requesting supplies.
The motion to approve all changes in the school fee policy was made by Britt Latiolais of District 5 and was approved unanimously.
The board also approved a transfer of $13,000,000 from a general school renovation line item to a line item that specifically includes renovations to Prairie Elementary, Carencro Heights, and Lafayette High School.
These changes aren't the first to come to LPSS and the fee policy. In August and throughout the previous months, KATC investigated how fees were being spent across the parish. Excess fees weren't being put back into the classroom, but instead into the schools' general funds. Officials implemented changes then, telling principals to take a close look at how collected fees were being spent. If that money wasn't being given back to students, principals were told to "back off on those fees." Read more about that investigation here and here.