The Louisiana Senate today voted 38-0 in favor of House Bill 160, which would require school districts in the state to collect data on school climate and school discipline.
The following statement is by Victor Jones, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC Action Fund:
“The Louisiana School Data Compliance Act (HB 160) aims to ensure that Louisiana’s public schools are transparent in their student disciplinary practices and school policing programs.
“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.
“HB 160 would better align Louisiana law on school data collection with federal law. Without this data, it is impossible to measure the effectiveness of the state’s student disciplinary and school policing programs, assess school climate and evaluate whether schools are complying with federal anti-discrimination laws.
“Comprehensive data collection and reporting would help school officials create and maintain safe and welcoming learning environments for all students. Publishing that data would inform the public on how our tax dollars are being spent.
“HB 160 is essential for transparency and accountability in Louisiana’s public schools and for ensuring that all our children are being treated fairly.”
The following statement is by Thibodaux Police Chief Brian Zeringue, a speaker for Law Enforcement Action Partnership:
“Everyday students are arrested or referred to law enforcement at school; this starts a path into the criminal justice system. 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 following statement is by Tim Hitt, former police officer for the city of Monroe, a speaker for Law Enforcement Action Partnership:
“Once a child gets arrested, he or she is more likely to continue down the wrong path. Unfortunately, some of our schools are referring students to law enforcement unnecessarily, but we don't have data to know how severe the problem is. We need to collect this data to help keep our students in school and on a better path.”