Lawmakers Partially 'Ban the Box' for College Applications

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's public colleges and universities should have limited authority to ask prospective students about their criminal histories to determine admission, legislators have decided.

The "ban the box" legislation received final passage, after some exceptions were added to the measure sponsored by Rep. Vincent Pierre, a Lafayette Democrat, to get the needed votes.

Schools still could ask about convictions for stalking, rape and sexual battery during the admissions process. If a potential student is denied admission because of such a conviction, the applicant could appeal the rejection.

After granting admission, colleges also would be able to ask about criminal convictions for a variety of reasons, including to determine if they'll limit participation in campus programs, financial aid and housing.

The measure won final passage Tuesday with a 90-1 House vote sending it to the governor's desk for consideration. Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, hasn't said whether he'll sign the bill.

The governor supported similar legislation last year that blocked state employers from asking about job applicants' criminal histories before they are interviewed. The law applies to the state's 30,000-plus "unclassified" employee positions. It doesn't apply to positions in law enforcement, corrections or other positions that legally require criminal background checks. ###