Disadvantaged student enrollment rules could be loosened for Louisiana charter schools

Author said bill targets parishes with splintered school districts

By: - April 19, 2022 5:55 pm

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Louisiana charter schools might soon be allowed to change the amount of disadvantaged students that they’re required to enroll.

Right now, charter schools must match their economically disadvantaged and special needs enrollment, excluding talented and gifted students, to at least 85% of their local school district’s enrollment of the same student segment.

House Bill 940, authored by Rep. Barbara Freiberg, R-Baton Rouge, would change those requirements to match the student enrollment demographics of the entire parish rather than just the local school district, meaning that students in private schools, other charter schools and in homeschool would be included in the tally.

The bill advanced Tuesday out of the House Education Committee with a 9-2 vote.

Freiberg said her bill would target charter schools in parishes like East Baton Rouge, which have three school systems.

“It’s not pushing anyone out of the building. It’s just opening the door to how (charter schools) are doing their recruiting across an entire community,” Caroline Roemer, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, said to the committee.

Dannie Garrett, who works in governmental relations for the Louisiana School Boards Association, said Freiberg’s bill would make it harder for school districts to replicate potential success in charter schools when their student demographics are too different from public schools.

Incorporating “affluent private school students” in a parish’s school demographics is “going to lower the percentage at risk and special ed students that they’re generally going to be required to have,” Garrett said.

The bill moves to the full House for a vote.

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is an award-winning journalist at The Louisiana Illuminator. Canicosa has previous experience at Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.