Senate passes bill that gives local school principals more responsibilities

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Two East Baton Rouge political heavy weights showed up in support of a principal empowerment bill that has sparked a heated debate at the Capitol Tuesday morning.

East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux and District Attorney Hillar Moore testified in favor of Senate Bill 636 saying education is the key to lowering the crime rate.

The bill strips authority from the school board and superintendent and shifts responsibilities to local principals. Proponents say schools will improve because of better involvement from parents and principals. Opponents say the bill will throw the East Baton Rouge Parish school system into utter chaos.

"You are making every principal a superintendent. Basically you are giving them the same equal authority as a superintendent in a school. Not being able to have anyone over them to be able to determine whether they are working within the laws within the budget and everything else they need to do and that's where the whole breakdown comes down," said Representative Pat Smith (D) Baton Rouge.

"This is really all about parents. Parents need to take control of their kids. Parents need to be involved with the teachers in their schools and hopefully this bill will accomplish this. If this bill does not pass. Hopefully this will continue the discussions that education should be our number one goal and program in Baton Rouge," said District Attorney Hillar Moore.

The bill passed with a vote of 10 to 6. It now moves to the House floor.

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