LES teacher says test scores, race reason students avoiding school

According to a Luling Elementary School teacher, students are avoiding the school not only because of its low scores on state testing, but also because of race.

The teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, said that many faculty members at the school believe that parents do not want their children to go to a school where the majority of students are black.

“Many of us here at Luling (Elementary) believe parents are not only avoiding our school because of scores but also because of race,” the teacher said.

Of the 123 students who live in Luling Elementary’s attendance zone and received a waiver to go to school elsewhere, about 70 percent are white.

Luling Elementary School has the highest number of students receiving waivers to attend another school in St. Charles Parish. That means that about 15 percent of the students who live in the school’s attendance zone go to school elsewhere. The next highest is St. Rose Elementary School with 21 students receiving waivers.

Most of the students who obtained waivers in the parish are going to either Mimosa Park Elementary or Lakewood Elementary, which are two of the top schools in the parish. There are 49 children attending Mimosa Park from a different attendance zone and 42 students attending Lakewood from outside of its zone.

The teacher said that while she believes the faculty and staff at Luling Elementary are among the best and brightest in the parish, it would be hard to significantly raise performance scores because students from higher income families continue to avoid the school.

Last month, district performance scores were released and Luling Elementary scored the lowest in the parish with 85.7, but that is still an increase from its 81.8 score last year.

“(Luling Elementary’s) scores will always be lower than other schools because we have the highest level of lower socio-economic students in the parish as well as the highest level of minorities,” the teacher said.

A parent of a St. Charles student, who wanted to remain anonymous, said that he believes the families are taking their children from the school solely because of the school’s low performance.

“Maybe if fewer kids were allowed to leave on waivers, the school’s scores would go up. But I wouldn’t want my children to be in that experimental group to find out,” he said.

Another parent who wished to be anonymous said that her daughter received a great foundation in learning at Luling Elementary and went on to attend college and earn her PhD in microbiology.

Of the students receiving waivers to attend a school other than Luling Elementary, about 70 percent have a high enough household income to not qualify for free or reduced lunch. At Luling Elementary, about 80 percent of current students qualify for free or reduced lunch, according to Rachel Allemand, assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and assessment for the parish.

Rochelle Cancienne-Touchard, director of public information for the schools, said that she did not believe there was any correlation between Luling Elementary’s scores and the amount of waivers issued to students in that attendance zone. She added that the school’s scores have consistently gone up each year.

To obtain a waiver, parents must provide a notarized letter including the reason for the request, such as childcare, a utility bill as proof of residency, an employer’s letter for each parent living at home listing a work schedule, and a letter and utility bill from the childcare provider.

Of the 123 students receiving waivers from Luling Elementary, 85, or about 70 percent, were granted a waiver because they go to childcare, such as a daycare or a babysitter, outside of the school zone they live in.

The rest were given a waiver because their parent works at another school.


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