Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Illegal Fee's

The 2010-2011 school year is just days away for many and has already begun for others. As schools gear up, many students and parents are addressed with different announcements and rule changes, but if you attend a public school in Louisiana, school fee's should not be one of them. Under the Louisiana Constitution and Louisiana State Law a public school may not charge any student for any use of books, labs, or for taking AP courses. This is a press release by Louisiana Justice Institute that covers some basis of what public schools should and should not do.

NEWS RELEASE: “Just Say No” to Illegal School Fees

Louisiana Justice Institute Advises Orleans Parish Public Schools parents and guardians “Just Say No” to Illegal School Fees and Reports Charter School Operator to U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights

For the third consecutive year Louisiana Justice Institute (LJI) advises parents to beware of illegal school fees charged by public school operators. Since July, LJI has received numerous reports from parents, distressed by the school fees being charged for their children to participate in required school activities. These charges are prohibited by the Louisiana Constitution and by state statute.

“Students are being assessed ‘instructional fees’ that are not related to any particular activity or service and amounts to an ‘attendance fee’ prohibited by law. Secondly, the Louisiana Constitution specifically requires that all school books and materials of instruction be provided free of charge. Thus, any fee for taking AP courses and study guide materials is also prohibited,” states Tracie L. Washington, LJI Co-Director and Attorney.

Further, and equally important, parents have an absolute right to free transportation of their child(ren) to school if the child resides more than 1 mile from the school site. “If you have been denied free transportation, or in any way coerced or discouraged from requiring your school to provide this transportation, then the school is violating Louisiana law.”

New Orleans is being lauded by the U.S. Department of Education and national school experts, who have proclaimed this model a success. But since Hurricane Katrina, each year children and families are stressed by the ‘Ringing of the Opening Bell’ because they cannot afford the rising cost of public education. “In all, my step-daughter and my step-son are required to pay over $1,150 in fees for school; it’s just too much. Where is the free and appropriate public education?” asks Angela Watson Daliet, co-founder of Save Our Schools NOLA.

If you are a student or parent being charged illegal school fees, contact LJI at 504.872.9134.

When I read this I was actually surprised by those laws. I say this because I always hear my friends or parents complain about paying fee's at a public school. If I would of known that this was illegal I would of said something. The astonishing thing is that these very important laws are rarely made public and therefor nothing is done about it. I would highly encourage anyone who's paying public school fee's to call the number at the end of the press release and get the problem settled.

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