Bill would halt teacher arrests for minor offenses

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(Baton Rouge – April 10, 2014) Teachers could no longer be handcuffed and arrested at school for minor offenses if a bill by State Rep. Terry Landry (D-New Iberia) continues its successful path through the legislature.

HB 1108 was introduced at the request of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers after a Baker, Louisiana teacher was arrested at school for allegedly pulling on the shirt tail of a child who refused to follow school policy. The teacher was then subsequently arrested, handcuffed, and taken to jail.

The arrest made front-page news and was featured on television news broadcasts.

Rep. Landry’s bill was given a unanimous vote of approval by the House Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday.

“Rep. Landry's legislation is a win for teachers and law enforcement,” said LFT President Steve Monaghan. “For teachers, it sends a clear message that a simple accusation won't lead to the embarrassment of arrest. For law enforcement, the bill provides clarifying guidance. We are grateful that Rep Landry has offered this legislation.”

Rep. Landry, a former State Police Trooper, said he hopes no educator will ever have to suffer the same humiliation as the Baker teacher did last March.

“Teachers certainly shouldn't be arrested for an alleged misdemeanor,” Rep. Landry said. “However, if an arrest happens and then the district attorney decides not to prosecute like what occurred in the recent case, then how does this teacher get her dignity and self-respect back? We need to make sure to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

The bill requires issuance of a misdemeanor summons “for any misdemeanor act allegedly committed during the course and scope of the school employee’s employment."

The employee would be required to answer a summons and appear in court on the charges. The bill does not apply to serious offenses or injuries to students.

The bill will be scheduled for a hearing before the full House of Representatives. If it passes the House, it will be sent to the Senate for further action.