New fighting policy appoved by St. John board

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 7, 2006


Staff Reporter

RESERVE – The St. John Parish School Board Discipline Committee met recently to finish reviewing and approving the Student Code of Conduct and Attendance Regulations, most notably removing the School Districts long standing no-blink arrest policy.

Under the no-blink policy, students age 12 and over who were caught fighting on school grounds or property, including the school bus, were automatically arrested.

The discipline committee, in cooperation with 40th Judicial District Judge Mary Hotard Becnel and other law enforcement officials, presented a new arrest policy Thursday in which principals have the discretion on a case-by-case basis to contact the St. John Sheriff’s office and press charges for disturbing the peace by fighting in public whenever students are in a fight causing battery.

Under the new policy, students 12 and older who fight and cause bodily injury, or participate in a group/gang fight, or refuse to stop shall be arrested, regardless of the circumstances. Any St. John student over 18 who is caught fighting, or a student over 12 who has been disciplined for fighting previously, shall also be arrested.

The new policy also calls for parents to remove their child within one hour from the school premises if he or she is caught fighting but not arrested. If the child is not removed within the hour, the child will be arrested, removed from the campus and the parents will be required to pick up their child from the St. John Sheriff’s Office.

Judge Becnel asked that it be required for parents to notify the school within 24 hours if their contact number changes. In addition, Becnel called for alternative contacts to be required because some parents do work odd schedules or just cant be there in a moment’s notice. The alternative contact would be an adult who has specific permission to remove the child from the school if necessary because the parent cannot be reached.

The policy also requires schools to notify parents that their child was in an altercation regardless if they are removed from the campus. Students involved in a fight will also have to attend a mediation session with a school counselor before returning to class.