The items that follow are obvious. I hope that this is helpful. Thanks to Superintendent Dr. Jo Ann Matthews and Director of Child Welfare and Attendance Mr. Frank Pasqua of the Lafourche Parish School Board.
Ken Friedlander, Legislative Advocate.
Education Bills Passed in the
2017 “Regular” Session of the
Frank Pasqua, Director of Child Welfare and Attendance
Lafourche Parish School Board
LACWAP Legislative Chairman
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks during the opening session of the Legislature
The 2017 “Regular” Legislative Session
Convened at noon on Monday, April 10, 2017
Final adjournment was at 6:00 p.m. Thursday, June 8, 2017
The effective date of Acts passed this session is August 1, 2017 unless the bill otherwise specifically provides, such as, upon the Governor’s signature.
The following is a summary of:
“Education Bills Passed in the 2017 Regular Session”
To print a COPY of any of the Bills/Acts listed, please visit the website of the Louisiana State Legislature at www.legis.la.gov
EDUCATION BILLS PASSED IN THE 2017 “REGULAR” SESSION
Legislation That May Be of Interest to CWA Personnel & School Administrators
ACT 266 HB 79 – Foil - STUDENT/DISCIPLINE: Prohibits the administration of
corporal punishment to students with exceptionalities, except gifted and
talented students, and makes this law applicable to charter schools.
Prohibits the use of corporal punishment with students who are eligible for
services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and who have
an Individual Accommodation Plan. Defines "corporal punishment" and
provides that "corporal punishment" does not include:
1) The use of reasonable and necessary physical restraint of a student to protect the student or others from bodily harm or to obtain possession of a weapon or other object from a student.
(2) The use of seclusion and restraint as provided in present law for students with exceptionalities.
Amends R.S. 17:223(A), 416.1(B), and 3996(B) (2))
ACT 72 HB 111 – Bishop - CURRICULA: Requires instruction in litter prevention
and awareness for public school students in kindergarten through grade
five. Provides that such instruction shall be integrated into the existing
curriculum and may include instructional materials created and developed
for students in La. Requires public school governing authorities to adopt
rules and regulations necessary to implement the law.
(Adds R.S. 17:267 and 3996(B) (44)).
ACT 286 SB 17 – Gatti - TRAFFIC: Provides for driver education to include
instruction on appropriate driver conduct when stopped by a law
enforcement officer. Effective January 1, 2018. (Amends R.S.
32:402.1(A)(1)(a) and (2)(b), 407(A)(2)(a), and 408(A)(1))
ACT 388 SB 189 – Colomb - ETHICS: Provides for ethical standards for public
servants. Provides an exception to the present law by allowing public
school teachers or administrators who participate in the National Math and
Science Initiative to receive an award for the time spent performing for the
benefit of his governmental entity. (gov. sig)
ACT 365 HB 20 – Price – SCHOOLS: Provides relative to exemptions from the
requirements for school instructional time under certain circumstances.
Adds that present law requirements relative to instructional time shall not be
applicable to any public school that cannot meet such requirements
because the school temporarily shared facilities with another school due to
damages caused by a natural disaster or emergency that was declared by
the governor pursuant to present law and that was certified by the state
superintendent of education and approved by the State Bd. of Elementary
and Secondary Education (BESE). Effective upon signature of governor or
lapse of time for gubernatorial action. (Adds R.S. 17:154.1(A)(6))
ACT 341 HB 412 – Lebas - SCHOOLS: Exempts sunscreen from requirements and
restrictions applying to the administration of medication to public school
students, allows students to possess and self-apply sunscreen without
parental consent or a physician's authorization, and provides for sunscreen
application by school employees.
ACT 351 HB 531 – Hoffman - HEALTH/SMOKING: Prohibits the use of tobacco
products on school property. Excepts from this prohibition any tobacco
product approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for sale as a tobacco cessation product that is marketed and sold solely for such an approved purpose. Deletes authorizes the designation of smoking areas on school property. Applies this prohibition to any school bus transporting students attending any school. Provides that the provisions of this law shall not apply to any school property that is rented, leased, or otherwise made available for non-educational purposes. Effective upon the signature of governor or lapse of time for gubernatorial action.
(Amends R.S. 17:240(A) and (B)).
ACT 146 HB 253 – Smith - EXCEPTIONAL PERSONS: Revises terminology
referring to the deaf and persons who are hard of hearing by deleting and
making substitutions for derogatory, inaccurate, and obsolete terms such
as, changes "deaf person" and "hearing-impaired person" to "the deaf
and hard of hearing" and other changes.
ACT 44 SB 71 – Donahue - TOPS: Provides relative to TOPS award amounts.
Resolves the inconsistent terminology in present law by providing that,
unless increased by the legislature: (1) The amount of a TOPS award paid
to a student enrolled in a public postsecondary institution shall be equal to
the tuition amount charged by the public college or university during the
2016-2017 academic year. (2) The amount of a TOPS award paid to a
student enrolled in an approved nonpublic college or university, a school of
Cosmetology, or an out-of-state college or university specifically designed to
accommodate deaf and hard-of-hearing students shall be equal to the
weighted average of the tuition amounts charged to students attending
public colleges and universities during the 2016-2017 academic year.
(gov. sig). (Amends R.S. 17:5002(A) (2), (B), (D) (1) (b) and (2) (b),
5041(intro para), and 5042(intro para).
ACT 291 SB 145 – Claitor - TOPS: Provides relative to Tulane Legislative
Scholarships. Provides that for a student enrolled in Tulane University who
is the recipient of both a Tulane Legislative Scholarship and an award
pursuant to the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS), the
university shall apply the full amount of the Tulane Legislative Scholarship
toward the student's financial obligations before applying the student's
TOPS award. Effective August 1, 2017. (Amends R.S. 17:5065(A) (2))
SCR 110 – Morrish - POSTSECONDARY ED: Creates a task force to study
the TOPS program, including a review of the program’s purpose and history,
the role of the program in relation to tuition and fees and financial aid
programs, and ways to ensure the program’s long-term viability. Provides
that the task force consists of 10 members (legislators). Requires the task
force submit a written report of findings and recommendations to the Senate
president and the speaker of the House by February 15, 2018.
SCHOOL BUS TRANSPORTATION
ACT 335 HB 243 – Hall - SCHOOLS/BUS DRIVERS: Changes "school bus driver"
to "school bus operator" in Title 17 and removes exceptions to a
prohibition on employment of certain persons with criminal records.
ACT 230 HB 660 – Carter - SCHOOLS/TRANSPORTATION: Requires identification
lettering on all school buses used to transport students to public schools in
ACT 364 HB 616 – Thomas - Limits student testing time on state assessments to
not more than 2% of the minimum number of instructional minutes per year.
Provides that the 2% limitation shall not affect the accommodations
provided to a student with an exceptionality or to a student who has been
determined to be eligible for services under Section 504. Requires public
school governing authorities to review benchmarks and interim
assessments on a regular basis. Provides that time limitations on
standards-based assessments do not include college entrance and college
credit exams, Advanced Placement exams, International Baccalaureate
exams and industry-based credential exams.
(Adds R.S. 17:24.4(F) (6) and (7))
ACT 227 HB 556 – Pearson - SCHOOLS/EMPLOYEES: Provides relative to sick
leave for teachers, school bus drivers, and other public school employees
who are disabled as a result of assault or battery or physical contact with
or by a student or person. Provides relative to requirements for certification
of such disability by a physician.
(Amends R.S. 17:500.1, 1201(C) (1) (b) (i) and (ii), and 1206
ACT 15 HB 4 – Miguez - Authorizes a retiree of the Teachers' Retirement System of
La. (TRSL) to return to work as a school nurse and continue to collect his
benefit check, subject to an earnings limitation of 25% of his benefit amount.
Effective July 1, 2017.
(Amends R.S. 11:710(A)(8); Adds R.S. 11:710(A)(5)(d) and (9))
ACT 120 HB 31 – Hoffmann - RETIREMENT/TEACHERS: Provides relative to the
reemployment of retired school psychologists in positions covered by the
Teachers' Retirement System of Louisiana. Effective July 1, 2017.
(Amends R.S. 11:710(A)(3) and (4)(b) and (F); Adds R.S. 11:710(B)(3))
ACT 285 SB 8 – Peacock - RETIREMENT SYSTEMS: Provides for correction of
membership and enrollment errors in the state and statewide retirement
systems. Effective June 30, 2017.
(Adds R.S. 11:143.1 and 888.1; repeals R.S. 11:896, 1119, and 2214.1)
SCR 22 – Mizell - CONGRESS: Memorializes Congress to consider
eliminating the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the
Government Pension Offset (GPO) Social Security benefit reductions.
“Other Education Legislation”
ACT 118 HB 28 – Emerson - MTR VEHICLE/LICEN PLATES: Creates the "Acadiana
High School" special prestige license plate. Effective Jan. 1, 2018.
ACT 374 SB 1 - Thompson - PUBLIC BUILDINGS/GROUNDS: Provides that the
official name of the La. School of Math, Science, and the Arts is to be the
Jimmy D. Long, Sr. La. School for Math, Science, and the Arts.
Authorizes the school to continue to use "Louisiana School of Math,
Science, and the Arts" for all purposes as determined by the school's board.
Effective upon signature of the governor or lapse of time for gubernatorial
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
ACT 224 HB 517 – CARTER - EDUCATION: Requires the state superintendent of
education to submit a written report to the House and Senate education
committees annually that contains information pertaining to every public
school, including charter schools, for the next five years and to appear
before these committees during the 2022 R.S. to present a summary,
findings, and recommendations. Provides that it shall become effective on
Aug. 1, 2017, and shall be repealed on Aug. 1, 2022. (Amends R.S.
17:22(11); Adds R.S. 17:22(12); Repeals R.S. 17:22(11)).
ACT 136 HB 130 – Devillier - STUDENTS: Changes certain references to students
who are eligible for free reduced price meals to students who are
economically disadvantaged as determined by the State Bd. of
Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) for purposes of teacher
evaluation and charter school enrollment. Requires BESE to ensure that
the indicators used to determine and identify economically disadvantaged
students for purposes of this law are substantially the same as those used
to certify student eligibility for the federal free and reduced price meals
program. (Amends R.S. 17:3902(B)(5), 3973(1)(intro. para.) and (a),
3991(B)(1)(a)(i) and (b)(i), and 3997(D)(2))
ACT 204 HB 178 – Simon - SCHOOLS/PROPRIETARY: Provides that educator
preparation programs approved by the State Bd. of Elementary and
Secondary Education (BESE) are not proprietary schools and thus not
subject to requirement pertaining to licensing by the Bd. of Regents.
(Amends R.S. 17:3141.2(intro. para.) and (5) (intro. para.); Adds R.S.
ACT 207 HB 242 – Emerson - SCHOOLS/CHARTER: Requires the State Bd. of
Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and local public
school boards to send to charter applicants certain information relative to
third-party evaluations of charter proposals.
HR 183 – Smith - STUDENTS: Requests governing authorities of public
schools and all nonpublic schools that participate in the voucher program
to adopt policies with regard to student fees.
BESE AND SCHOOL FINANCE – MFP
HCR 7 – Landry - SCHOOLS/FINANCE-MFP: Provides for legislative
approval of the minimum foundation program (MFP) formula for FY
2017- 18 to determine the cost of a minimum foundation program of
education in all public elementary and secondary schools as well as to
equitably allocate the funds to local public school systems as developed by
the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and
adopted by the board on March 8, 2017. Amended- Replace the 2017-2018
MFP formula adopted by BESE on March 8, 2017, with the formula adopted
by the board on May 11, 2017, which includes provisions for emergency
assistance for certain public school systems and schools impacted by
natural disasters or military deployment.
HR 190 – Price - SCHOOLS/FINANCE-MFP: Requests that the State
Board of Elementary and Secondary Education reconvene a Minimum
Foundation Program task force to determine the actual cost of public
education and identify potential funding mechanisms.
BESE AND CURRICULA
ACT 250 SB 190 – Thompson - COLLEGES/UNIVERSITIES: Requires BESE, in
collaboration with local education agencies and public postsecondary
education management boards, to develop “transition courses” designed
to improve identified student academic weaknesses in English and
mathematics and enable such students to achieve college readiness by the
end of the senior year of high school. Further provides that “transition
courses” must be aligned with state content standards and high school
Requires, beginning with the 2017-2018 school year,
that a student's English and mathematics scores from the ACT Test
be used to determine college readiness. Beginning with the 2018-2019
school year, requires each high school senior who did not meet the ACT
college readiness benchmarks to take an appropriate transition course.
Requires the state Department of Education to:
(1) Develop and administer an end-of-course test for each transition course. Further provides that passage of the test shall not be required for passage of the course.
(2) Post the number and percentage of students taking each transition course and the number and percentage of students taking each transition course who demonstrate college readiness on the end-of-course test on the department's website by Sept. 30th of each year.
(3) Ensure teachers of transition courses receive appropriate
professional development. (gov. sig)
ACT 392 SB 225 – Hewitt - CURRICULA: Provides relative to STEM education.
Provides with respect to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education as follows:
(1) Creates the Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering, and
Mathematics Advisory Council and provides for its membership powers, duties, and function.
(2) Creates the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
Education Fund in the state treasury.
(3) Requires the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to create a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics high school diploma endorsement.
(gov. sig). (Adds R.S. 17:4071-4073 and R.S. 36:651(T) (6))
HCR 14 – Moreno - CURRICULA: Requests the State Board of
Elementary and Secondary Education to allow instruction in computer
science to count for purposes of satisfying certain high school graduation
HR 94 – Broadwater - CURRICULA: Requests the State Board of
Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a process for approval
of online courses offered to students.
BESE AND EDUCATIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY
ACT 383 SB 170 – Barrow - EDUCATION ACCOUNTABILITY: Requires BESE, for
the 2016-2017 school year, to examine the results of student assessments
and school-level test data and make such allowances in calculating school
and district performance scores and letter grades as the board deems
necessary and appropriate in a parish located in a gubernatorial or
presidentially declared disaster area. Requires a representative of BESE
to present a report relative to the results and allowances made, if any, to the
Senate Committee on Education and the House Committee on Education,
meeting separately or jointly, not later than March 21, 2018. Effective upon
signature of the governor or lapse of time for gubernatorial action.
(Adds R.S. 17:24.4(F)(1)(h))
ACT 394 SB 233 – Lafleur - EDUCATION ACCOUNTABILITY: Requires BESE to
award points to the school performance score of a school that offers certain
programs that meet performance and quality standards established by
BESE. Provides that the number of the points awarded will be subject to
approval by BESE and in accordance with federal law. (gov. sig)
(Adds R.S. 17:10.1(G))
HR 158 – Hoffmann - TEACHERS/EVALUATION: Requests the State
Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to report information
relative to the reliability of value-added data.
HR 166 – LeBas - STUDENT/ASSESSMENT: Establishes the Commission
on Assessment Review and Use in Public Schools
ACT 249 SB 164 – Peacock - PUBLIC LANDS: Provides the procedures for the sale
of certain school lands by a school board. (8/1/17)
ACT 174 SB 237 – Cortez - BONDS: Provides relative to revenue bonds of the
Lafayette Parish School Board. (gov. sig)
HR 199 – Amedee - Requests collaboration among the leaders of the La.
School Boards Assoc., the La. Assoc. of School Superintendents, the La.
Federation of Teachers, the La. Assoc. of Educators, and the Associated
Professional Educators of La. in ensuring equal access to membership in
union and nonunion professional organizations throughout the public
schools and school districts of La.
SR 147 - PUBLIC MEETINGS: Requests that legislation allowing school
boards and local governing authorities be authorized to go into executive
session when discussing economic development projects be included in
the call for any special legislative session in 2017.
ACT 86 HB 452 – Abramson - SCHOOLS/NONPUBLIC: Makes the requirement for
in-service training in suicide prevention applicable to all charter and
approved nonpublic school teachers, school counselors, principals, and as
determined by the board, other school administrators.
(Amends R.S. 17:437.1(B); Adds R.S. 17:3996(B) (13)).
ACT 253 SB 215 – Tarver - SCHOOLS: Provides relative to the enrollment
procedures of certain charter schools. Provides that, notwithstanding present law or any process or policy adopted by a local education agency, a charter school with a foreign immersion language mission may modify its application and enrollment procedures and directly enroll the child of a faculty member who is recruited from a foreign country to teach in the school, provided the child meets all mission-related admission requirements. Further provides that such child will not be counted when determining the enrollment capacity of a program, class, grade level, or school. (gov. sig). (Adds R.S. 17:3991(C) (1) (c) (v))
SR 68 – Bishop - SCHOOLS: Requests each charter school governing or
management board to include at least one parent or guardian of a student
in its membership.
EARLY LEARNING CENTERS/CHILD CARE
ACT 423 HB 557 – Seabaugh - CHILDREN/CARE: Provides for criminal
background checks relative to early learning centers, school employees,
registered family child care providers and in-home providers. Becomes
effective when BESE promulgates rules providing for implementation
procedures by which DOE shall conduct employment eligibility
determinations or on September 30, 2018, whichever is earlier.
(Amends R.S 15:587.1(D) (2) and R.S. 17:15(A) (1) (b), 407.42, and
407.71; Repeals R.S. 17:407.41)
ACT 353 HB 584 – Leger - FUNDS/FUNDING: Creates the La. Early Childhood
Education Fund for the purpose of funding early childhood education
programs for children three years old and under; dedicates state funds to
the fund; provides for allocation of such funds to local entities operating
publicly funded childhood education programs. (Adds R.S. 17:407.30)
ACT 256 SB 255 – Morrell - EARLY CHILDHOOD ED: Requires each licensed early
learning center to provide a written copy of all health related policies
established by the center, including policies regarding accidents, allergic
reactions, fever, illness, immunizations, infection, and injuries, to the parent
or guardian of each child attending or enrolled in the early learning center.
Further provides that such policies are binding upon the child's parent or
legal guardian. (gov. sig) (Adds R.S. 17:407.50.1)
ACT 237 SB 66 – Barrow - CHILDREN: Provides relative to the Children's Cabinet
and the Child Poverty Prevention Council of Louisiana. (8/1/17)
ACT 293 HB 113 – Broadwater - STUDENT/TUITION: Extends the authority of the
public postsecondary education management boards to establish and
increase student fees but limits this authority to the 2017-2018, 2018-2019,
and 2019-2020 academic years.
ACT 276 HB 688 – Pierre - COLLEGES/ADMISSIONS: Prohibits a public
postsecondary education institution from inquiring about a prospective
student's criminal history, except for history pertaining to specified offenses,
prior to his acceptance for admission.
ACT 240 SB 90 – Erdey -POSTSECONDARY ED: Provides relative to scholarships
for children of certain law enforcement officers and other investigative
employees killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. (gov. sig)
ACT 321 SB 106 – Bishop - POSTSECONDARY ED: Requires public postsecondary
institutions to address the prevention of unplanned pregnancies among
unmarried college students as a part of freshmen orientation. (gov. sig)
ACT 377 SB 95 – Morrish - TAX EXEMPTIONS: Changes the rebate for donations
to certain school tuition organizations to a nonrefundable income tax
credit. Specifies that in order to qualify for the credit, the taxpayer must be
required to file a Louisiana income tax return. (gov. sig).
ACT 138 HB 142 – Pugh - ELECTION DAYS - Provides for a special statewide
election to be held on Sat., Oct. 14, 2017, for the purpose of submitting
proposed constitutional amendments to the electors of the state.
ACT _____ HB 145 – Garofalo - TAX/AD VALOREM-EXEMPTION: (Constitutional
Amendment) Authorizes an exemption from ad valorem property tax for
the total assessed value of the homestead of the unmarried surviving
spouse of a person who died while performing their duties as an
emergency medical responder, technician, paramedic, volunteer firefighter,
or law enforcement or fire protection officer.
ACT _____ HB 354 – Thibaut - TAX/GASOLINE TAX: (Constitutional Amendment)
Provides relative to the dedication of proceeds of the tax levied on
motor fuels. Establishes the "Construction Subfund" as a special subfund
within the TTF and requires the avails of any new tax levied on gasoline,
diesel, and special motor fuels that become effective on or after July 1,
2017, to be deposited into the subfund for use on direct costs associated
with actual project delivery, construction, and maintenance of transportation
and capital infrastructure projects of the state and local government.
Prohibits any monies in the subfund from being used by the Dept. of
Transportation and Development for the payment of employee wages
and related benefits or employee retirement benefits.
ACT _____ SB 140 – Walsworth - TAX EXEMPTIONS: Constitutional Amendment to
exempt from ad valorem taxation certain property delivered to a
construction site. Exempts all property delivered to a construction project
site for the purpose of incorporating the property into any tract of land,
building, or other construction as a component part, including the type of
property that may be deemed to be component part once placed on an
immovable for its service and improvement pursuant to the provisions of
the La. Civil Code. The exemption is effective until the construction project
A Quick Look at What Passed, Failed in the 2017 Louisiana “Regular” Session of the Legislature
BUDGET: The House and Senate failed to reach an agreement on the state's $28 billion-plus operating budget for the financial year that begins July 1, forcing the Legislature into a special session. At issue is whether to trust the state's income forecast and spend all the money available or leave some unspent as a cushion in case the forecast is too optimistic. House Republican leaders want to spend less, saying that would keep them from making midyear budget cuts if the forecast isn't met. The Senate, backed by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and House Democrats, wants to spend all available dollars, saying otherwise lawmakers would have to make harmful cuts to services.
EDUCATION: Edwards' proposal to put limits on the state's voucher program stalled, along with his recommended changes to Louisiana's system of evaluating teachers. His push to ban corporal punishment in public schools for students with disabilities easily won approval, though a broader proposal not pushed by the governor to prohibit all corporal punishment stalled. Students won't need a doctor's permission to bring sunblock to public schools, and college governing boards will continue to have the ability to raise student fees.
TOPS: College students who receive tuition payments through the TOPS program won't encounter new residency or repayment requirements. The nearly $300 million won't face any substantive changes and will pay students' full tuition charges in the 2017-18 school year. A study group will look at recommending future legislation, amid concerns about the program's price tag.
TAXES: No deal was reached on taxes, despite months of talk about how lawmakers would focus on a tax overhaul to stabilize Louisiana's finances and address a looming $1 billion budget gap that hits in mid-2018 when temporary taxes expire. The House — where most tax measures must start — blocked anything that could be considered a tax hike and scrapped nearly every bill recommended by a task force offering a roadmap for reform efforts. The Senate was stymied, unable to consider much without House cooperation. Senators rejected the few piecemeal bills the House sent over.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Edwards' biggest victory was passage of a criminal justice revamp aimed at reducing Louisiana's top-in-the-nation incarceration rate. The bills lessen sentences for nonviolent crimes, boost spending on programs aimed at helping people who leave prison so they don't reoffend, and ease the financial burdens ex-offenders face when they are released. An effort to end Louisiana's use of the death penalty, which wasn't part of the criminal justice overhaul, failed. Lawmakers increased police training requirements and agreed to better track officers' disciplinary records nearly a year after Alton Sterling, a black man, was fatally shot during a struggle with white Baton Rouge police officers.
PAY ISSUES: The governor's bid to raise Louisiana's minimum wage from the $7.25-per-hour federal level to $8.50 and to enact an equal-pay bill requiring private businesses to pay the same wages to men and women who perform the same work failed to win support for a second year. Both stalled in the Senate, and a separate effort aimed at achieving equal pay by providing more wage transparency was killed in the House.
CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS: Decisions on the fate of Confederate monuments erected in towns and cities around Louisiana will be left to local governments. An effort to make it harder to remove the statues was backed in the House, prompting a walkout from black lawmakers. But the bill was spurned by senators.
ABORTION: Lawmakers toughened requirements for parental consent when a minor wants to get an abortion, mandating that the guardian provide proof of identity, including a government-issued identification card such as a driver's license. But the issue of abortion drew less attention this year.
OTHER ISSUES: Louisiana won't hold a constitutional convention and won't join 44 other states in creating statewide regulations governing ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft. For the second consecutive year, senators jettisoned a proposal to penalize so-called sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with immigration authorities. The House refused to shorten the waiting period for a divorce when the married couple has children under 18.