Schools will no longer be able to administer corporal punishment to students in special education, with disabilities or under the 504 classification.
This is a change to school policies statewide implemented by the Louisiana Legislature this past session, Assistant Superintendent Kevin Washington said.
According to the new policy, “no form of corporal punishment shall be administered to a student with an exceptionality, excluding gifted and talented as defined by La. R.S. ANN. 17:1942 or to a student who has been determined to be eligible for services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and has an Individual Accommodation Plan.”
“This means students in special education, students with disabilities or those under 504,” Washington said. “No longer can you issue corporal punishment – by statute.”
Another policy change deals with the reporting of child abuse. Washington said mandatory reporters, a teacher or child care provider, must now report child abuse directly to the appropriate authorities.
“Years ago, they told the principal, ‘The child told me this,’” he said. “Now, it’s going to require you to report it directly to authorities.”
The new policy requires the mandatory reporter who suspects child abuse or neglect to report it to the Department of Children and Family Services through the designated state child protection reporting hotline or if the abuse or neglect is someone other than a parent or caretaker to report it directly to law enforcement.
A new policy is requiring schools provide an appropriate place for breast-feeding mothers. Washington said this means a private room, other than a restroom to allow mothers who breast-feed to breastfeed their babies or “express breast milk.”
“A mother would have to have set breaks for this to happen,” he said. “We’ve had to do that at Central Office long before the policy. We had to provide a time for that individual and an appropriate place for that individual.”
He emphasized that this policy is for employees only, not students.
“That hasn’t been addressed yet,” he said.
Other new policies include:
Inspection and searches: the school board will have the right to inspect and search any school board owned property including computers, desks, lockers and similar furnishings. An employee’s personal property brought on school board premises may be subject to inspection, including searches, in connection with an investigation into stolen property, hazardous materials, controlled substances or the health and safety of employees and students.
Security and confidentiality: This policy has to do with control over entrance to the premises, access to work locations and records, computer information and cash or other items of monetary value. Confidential information obtained as a resolute of employment cannot be used by an employee for private interest or as a means of making personal gain.