Aug 14, 2013 7:52 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck

A mother speaks out on paying costly school fees

Back to school can be tough financially for some parents, especially as they tally up those back to school fees.

But what happens if you just can't pay them? According to Lafayette Parish School District schools will usually work out a payment plan.

That's been the case for one parent, but she's still upset with how her situation was handled. Samantha Stewart said she received a letter from Acadiana High School back in May, stating "I regret to inform you that your child will not receive his/ her report card until the outstanding obligations listed below have been paid." The total was $22.25.

"It's wrong, and it's illegal," Samantha Stewart said.

It is not only against state law, it's also against the Department of Education's policy, which states "No education record of any student may by withheld as a result of lack of payment of any fine, debt or other outstanding obligation."

Lafayette Parish School System says it follows that policy, and the letter's purpose was to let Stewart know that she still owed fees. However, there are other things that bother her.

"If a parent cannot afford the fees they punish the children, from not allowing them to go to homecoming until all of their school fees are paid," Stewart said.

Lafayette Parish School System says students can be barred from extra-curricular activities like homecoming if a school is still owed money. Acadiana High School Principal David LeJeune says that happens in some cases. However, he says the school tries to work with families who can't pay school fees in full.

"We as a system, and we as a school are going to do what we can to make their child successful in the classes they're in even though their fees haven't been paid yet," LeJeune said.

Stewart said the school does work with her when it comes to paying school fees, but still feels the system can be unfair to her kids.

"It just takes one person to have the courage to stand up and say that's not right," Stewart said.

Stewart says she still hasn't received a report card for one of her daughters because she owed the school money. Lafayette Parish School System says it's following up with Acadiana High School.



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