Luling Elementary: 123 students should attend but go elsewhere

Over 15 percent of the students who are supposed to attend Luling Elementary School are attending a different school after obtaining a waiver from the district.

In the school’s attendance zone, 123 students are currently using a waiver to attend another school. That makes up almost 60 percent of the total 209 students in St. Charles Parish who are currently attending school outside of the school zone they live in.

In most zones, there are between one and ten students who obtain a waiver to attend another school.

Earlier this 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.

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 outside of the school zone they live in.

“If they have childcare, such as daycare or a babysitter, in the zone of the school they are requesting, they are granted a waiver,” said Jerry Smith, director of child welfare and attendance for the district. Smith said she had no idea why the number of waivers requested was so much higher at Luling Elementary than at other schools.

Rochelle Cancienne-Touchard said that if that criterion is met, the schools always issue a waiver because parents are allowed to take students to whatever daycare they choose.
“It’s not up to us to tell a parent who they have to select for a daycare,” she said.

The remaining students from Luling Elementary’s zone received a waiver because they have a parent who works at a different school.

Most of the students who obtained waivers in the parish transferred to either Mimosa Park Elementary or Lakewood Elementary. There are 49 children attending Mimosa Park from a different attendance zone and 42 students attending Lakewood from outside of its zone. That is far higher than the average of seven out-of-zone students at other schools.

Lakewood and Mimosa Park are two of the parish’s top performing schools. Lakewood had a performance score of 110.6, while Mimosa scored a 112.6.

Smith said that she did not think that Mimosa Park or Lakewood were adversely affected by the influx of students from other schools.

“I’m not aware of any negative impact,” she said.
Cancienne-Touchard said that her office has not received any complaints from parents or staff about the number of waivers issued to students in Luling.

Income levels and the ability to provide transportation to and from childcare or school may be a factor in who applies for a waiver. Luling Elementary has the highest percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch in the district at about 80 percent, according to Rachel Allemand, assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and assessment for the parish.

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