DONALDSONVILLE — Ascension Parish Schools Superintendent Patrice Pujol will be able to grant residency waivers under “extreme circumstances” under a new School Board policy.
The School Board’s Policy Committee discussed several updated policies Tuesday, including an exception to the district’s student residence policy.
“The Superintendent has the authority to make exceptions to the student residence requirements in cases of extreme circumstances considering the best interest of the child,” the new policy reads.
Pujol said she already was granting waivers in the past in certain circumstances if they had been requested by School Board members.
Now, that practice will be legal, she said.
Pujol said she only granted waivers in “very extreme situations” and did not always approve waivers despite requests from board members.
“Some y’all referred to me I’ve not let them move because I’ve investigated their situation and it was not that extraordinary,” Pujol said.
The policy is in place to prevent students from attending schools outside their assigned zones.
Board Vice President Lorraine Wimberley said she supported the new rule as a way to help some of the district’s more “faithful” residents who were in need.
Wimberly added her support was contingent upon Pujol remaining as superintendent, and the board should reconsider the rule if she ever leaves.
“We didn’t feel the next superintendent should have that much power,” she said of Policy Committee board members who discussed the new policy.
Board member Patricia Russo expressed some concerns about the waiver, saying she believes the district needs as strict a residence policy as possible to avoid abuse.
“I don’t want people to say I want my kid to go to Dutchtown when they live in St. Amant,” Russo said.
She said residents in the parish still are abusing the system, and any easing of the requirements is not good for the district.
“As long as I’m on this board, I will fight to keep this policy as strong as I can,” Russo said.