Monday, November 12, 2012

Evaluation law to be tested in court

LFT challenge to Act 1 will be heard December 17

One of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s most controversial education initiatives will be tested in court on December 17, when the Louisiana Federation of Teachers asks a Baton Rouge judge to toss out Act 1 of the 2012 legislature.

The law links virtually every aspect of a teacher’s professional life to a new evaluation system. In a lawsuit filed last June, the Federation charged that Act 1 violates the state constitution.

According to LFT President Steve Monaghan, Act 1 bundles what should have been a number of separate bills into one instrument. By rushing the bill through the legislature in the opening days of the last session, Monaghan said, Gov. Jindal treated the constitution “like little more than a list of inconvenient suggestions.”

In a motion for summary judgment to be heard in Baton Rouge’s 19th Judicial District Court, LFT is asking that the new law be tossed because it conflicts with Article 3 Section 15(A) of the state constitution, which clearly states that bills “shall be confined to one object.”

Act 1 radically changes at least eight different existing laws “which have no reasonable relationship with, nor natural connection to, each other…” according to the LFT’s plea.

“By cramming so many objectives into the bill, public comment and debate were stifled,” Monaghan said. “Legislators were given little information about the bill, and appeared intimidated into passing it without adequate debate and oversight.”

Some of the LFT’s specific challenges to Act 1’s bundled objectives, each of which should have been a separate bill, include:
  • It changes the contractual relationship between local school boards and their superintendents.
  • It strips the authority to hire and fire teachers from school boards and gives it to superintendents.
  • It gives superintendents sole authority to determine reduction in force policies.
  • It creates a new section of law regarding how teacher salaries will be determined.
  • It changes due process rights that teachers have under law.
The Federation filed the lawsuit on June 7, at the same time as a suit challenging Act 2, the governor’s “choice” or school voucher bill.

Other organizations, including the Louisiana School Boards Association and the Louisiana Association of Educators, later joined the Federation’s suit challenging the “choice” act. It is slated to go to trial on November 28.

LFT remains the sole organization with a lawsuit pending against Act 1.

Click here to read the LFT plea for summary judgment.
Click here for the original reports about the Federation's lawsuits.
Click here for recent news about the Act 2 lawsuit.

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