Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a bill today that will help ensure schools are transparent in their student disciplinary practices and school policing programs.
The SPLC Action Fund advocated for the passage of House Bill 160 (HB 160), which was sponsored by state Rep. Joseph Bouie. The new law requires school districts to collect data on school climate and discipline.
“Comprehensive data collection will give Louisiana schools a valuable resource to measure the effectiveness of their student disciplinary and school policing programs, assess school climate, and evaluate whether schools are complying with federal anti-discrimination laws,” said Victor Jones, SPLC Action Fund senior supervising attorney.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights collects data from public schools to ensure that recipients of federal funding do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex or disability. However, Louisiana school districts are not consistently meeting federal requirements because the state mandates limited data collection.
“Every day students are arrested or referred to law enforcement at school; this starts a path into the criminal justice system,” said Bryan Zeringue, police chief for the city of Thibodaux. “We need comprehensive data to make sure we are keeping students out of the justice system by looking at alternative measures and or resources to address the source of the problems while still keeping our schools safe.”
The SPLC Action Fund has advocated comprehensive data collection and reporting in schools because it will help school officials create and maintain safe and welcoming learning environments for all students, regardless of race, gender or disability.
“This legislation is essential for transparency and accountability in Louisiana’s public schools and for ensuring that all our children are being treated fairly,” Jones said.
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