LAFAYETTE — Expulsions would no longer be an option facing Lafayette Parish students if the School Board adopts a proposed new discipline policy.
Instead, students would be sent to N.P. Moss Preparatory School, where the school system is consolidating its alternative programs.
The School Board also will consider a new dress code that would allow students to wear hoodies, among other changes.
The proposed changes to the discipline and dress code policies will be discussed in a community meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Vermilion Conference Center.
The proposals were introduced Wednesday at the School Board’s meeting. They will be up for approval at its next meeting on July 18.
The community meeting Tuesday is an opportunity for the public to provide feedback on the proposals or receive clarification on the policies, said Brandi Gonzales, district supervisor of child welfare and attendance, in an email.
Under the proposals , principals would have more freedom in how they choose to discipline students.
“We don’t want any child sent home,” Superintendent Pat Cooper said during a workshop Wednesday to brief board members on the changes.
“If we don’t want them sent home or in the teacher’s classroom disrupting the class … we have to have these options,” he said.
Schools will have a new support system to help address students’ disruptive behavior: health and wellness teams that will include social workers to help identify and address the root causes of a student’s misbehavior, Cooper said.
In the 2010-11 school year, 0.8 percent of Lafayette Parish students were expelled compared with the state average of 0.2 percent, according to data Gonzales presented at the workshop.
Referrals on high school campuses included 4,119 for students who were habitually tardy and absent while another 1,329 were related to students leaving a classroom without permission or skipping class.
The data point to a student engagement issue, Gonzales told board members.
“It discourages me that there’s maybe something we’re not doing on the high school level that students aren’t wanting to be there,” she said.
The school district plans to develop workshops on classroom management, she said.
The changes to the dress code and discipline policies are to provide principals with more flexibility in managing their campuses, school officials said.
Principals are under a two-year deadline to raise their individual school accountability labels by one letter grade or face losing their jobs under Cooper’s turnaround plan.
Staff members simplified the dress code and those proposals include allowing hoodies back on campus.
The School Board banned hoodies in 2009, days before the start of the school year.
Many parents and students complained about the last-minute change, students because the article of clothing is a staple of their wardrobe and parents because they already paid for hoodies, including ones sold by the schools.
On high school campuses, principals will decide whether students must tuck in their shirts and wear belts. Tucked-in shirts and belts will still be mandatory on elementary and middle school campuses.
The proposed dress code changes are to add more instructional time to the classroom, Gonzales said.
Too many teachers complained they spent much of their time policing the dress code, even lining students up to check their sock lengths because no ankle socks were allowed last year, she said.
Ankle sock, in any color, are acceptable under the proposed policy changes.
The former policy was a bit “nit-picky” with restrictions on label sizes on clothing, board member Rae Trahan said Wednesday.
Trahan and board member Tommy Angelle questioned allowing students to walk about campus untucked and unbelted. The lax policy doesn’t prepare students for the workplace, Angelle said.
To view the proposed policy changes, visit: http://esb.lpssonline.com and select the July 11 board meeting.