Lafayette School Board addresses discipline issues

The Lafayette Parish School Board took another step in addressing the big discipline problem in schools at Wednesday's board meeting.

One board member would like to see teachers have the final say when it comes to whether or not a disruptive or abusive student is allowed back in the classroom.

The idea was brought up by board member Mark Allen Babineaux who feels when these students return to the classroom, it shows them the teacher has no power or authority.

“It should be asking these teachers do you think this student should be allowed back in the classroom?” says Babineaux.

Babineaux thinks a step forward in solving the discipline problem in Lafayette Parish Schools is giving the power to teachers when it comes to addressing the problem.

“They know their students better than anybody, and unfortunately it's the only profession where they're not considered experts in their own field,” says Babineaux.

Although the measure he is presenting is in its infancy stages and will be shaped and molded over the next few weeks, current state law may not allow it.

“The principal is the final arbiter of that discipline, in that school and that is a legal ramification,” explains Bradley Cruice, Director of Health and Wellness.

Other board members agreed the discipline problem needs to be addressed, but some had their reservations as to if this was the way of going about it.

“The teacher invokes their right, 'hey I'm putting my foot down', and that principal says I have no where to put them. They're going back to class,” says Tehmi Chassion, District 1.

“The ultimate disciplinarian is the principal, and I think that's a good rule for purposes of uniformity,” says Tommy Angelle, District 2.

Katrina Riley, principal at J.W. Faulk Elementary voiced her opinion during the discussion. She thinks that Babineaux's plan would lead to division between teachers and administrators.

“We need to think about this thing in detail before we rile up and create dissention amongst our campuses,” says Riley.

Current school policy says a teacher can be involved in the ultimate decision on whether a problem student is admitted back to class, but the decision lies with the principal.

Babineaux feels that process is not immediate enough if the problem needs to be addressed.

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