St. Charles Herald-Guide

101 students allowed to transfer from Luling Elementary

By Kyle Barnett - November 1, 2012

More than 100 children who should attend Luling Elementary are going to school elsewhere after being granted waivers by the St. Charles Parish school district.

While 101 children were granted waivers from Luling Elementary, R.K. Smith Middle School had the second highest number of waivers with 46 granted, which makes up just over 12 percent of the student body.

Both schools have the highest number of minority students in attendance and the lowest performance scores for their student populations in the district.

Jerry Smith, director of Child Welfare and Attendance, said most waivers are granted for students who have childcare needs outside of their attendance zone.

"If someone submits an application and they meet the criteria for childcare that means they have childcare in the district of the school that is outside of where they live and that’s where they want their child to go to school. We grant the waivers based on them meeting the criteria for childcare," Smith said.

Smith also said the children of school employees are allowed access to waivers.

Out of 217 requested waivers district wide, only five were not granted.

About 63 percent of the waivers were requested by those who had childcare needs outside of their child’s attendance zone. The other 37 percent of waivers were requested by employees.

Of the elementary students that were granted waivers, most transferred to Lakewood Elementary, which has the highest performance scores in the district. A majority of the middle school waiver students now attend J.B. Martin, which has the highest performance scores and lowest minority population amongst middle schools.

In 2010, 70 percent of the students who were seeking the waivers were white. The ethnicity of those seeking waivers this year was not provided by the school district despite a request by the Herald-Guide.

Ellis Alexander, the School Board member whose district encompasses both Luling Elementary and R.K. Smith Middle School, said although those schools have high minority populations it is not a matter of purposeful segregation.

"The kid is going to go to the closest school. We’re not going to send kids from Killona to Lakewood because Luling is closer. We’re not going to assign kids who live in Luling to go to Lakewood because Luling is closest," Alexander said. "I don’t see where there is a problem with the attendance zones. It is just the makeup of the communities that is nearest to the school."

He also said he was unsure why so many waivers were requested at the two schools.

"I would suggest you question the parents as to why they requested the waivers," Alexander said. "All I would expect is that the parent is doing what is best for them and their child."

101 students allowed to transfer from Luling Elementary