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Sunday, July 21, 2019

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On Louisiana's public schools' fees, report urges caution

On Louisiana's public schools' fees, report urges caution

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's public school districts charge fees for everything from uniforms and school supplies to lockers and parking.

A new report prepared for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education urges districts to be careful in enacting such fees.

"The assessment of fees to students attending public schools should be addressed with extreme caution in order to provide all students with equitable access to a quality education, particularly in a state whose student body is 71.3 percent economically disadvantaged," the report says.

The News-Star says the report was included in documents posted for consideration at the education board's upcoming meetings, scheduled for this week.

The results come from an online survey of Louisiana school districts and charter schools, in which 99 percent of local education agencies responded. The report says all the districts indicated assessing some type of student fee.

"The cost ranges from a high of $95 for school supplies and a low of $10 for locker fees," the report said.

Twenty-seven percent of districts charge a physical education uniform fee, 24 percent charge a school supply fee and 23 percent charge an ID badge fee, according to the report.

Nearly three-quarters of the respondents said they charge for extracurricular activities, with money going toward membership fees, uniforms and competition participation costs.

A small number of districts charge locker fees and technology fees. One percent of respondents said they charge a fee for being late or tardy, while two districts assess fees for cell phone violations, according to the report.

One district, which was not identified in the report, charges students and parents up to $200 to obtain a phone that is seized by school staff.

In most cases, principals or school administrators are in charge of establishing fees, determining how the money is spent and whether to grant waivers if a student isn't able to pay.

About half the respondents said no consequences exist if fees are not paid, while about 10 percent said students would be ineligible for certain services or activities.