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Judge throws out Jindal's teacher tenure revamp

Last Modified: Monday, March 04, 2013 6:08 PM

By Lance Traweek / American Press

A Baton Rouge judge on Monday threw out Gov. Bobby Jindal’s changes to teacher tenure and salary laws, deeming the legislation unconstitutional because it had several items stretching Louisiana’s education laws.

Earlier, Judge Michael Caldwell threw out parts of the education law that limited the authority of local school boards. But he had upheld the provision that made it more difficult for teachers to obtain the job protection status of tenure and that eliminated statewide teacher pay scales.

On Monday, Caldwell expanded his prior decision, saying he had misread part of the bill for the previous ruling that allowed any part of it to stand. The judge decided that the whole bill must be declared unconstitutional because the bill grouped together too many objectives that should have been spread out among multiple measures. Caldwell’s decision sided with the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, which filed the original lawsuit challenging the legislation and asked the judge to reconsider his previous ruling that upheld parts of the bill.

Jimmy Faircloth, attorney for the Jindal administration and the state Department of Education, said he will appeal the Republican judge’s decision.

“While the ruling does not judge the substance of the law, we’re disappointed that the Court reversed its original ruling,” Jindal said in a news release. “We expect to prevail in the state Supreme Court.”

But LFT President Steve Monaghan said he knew the bill was unconstituional when it was filed.

“I’m very excited that it was deemed completely unconstitutional — that’s always been our view,” Teri Johnson, president of the Calcasieu chapter of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, said Monday. “You cannot roll that much into one bill and bury things in it and push it through. It wasn’t fair.”

Johnson, who is listed as a plaintiff on the lawsuit, said if the bill were separated and put through the legislative process certain parts would hold up.

“I’m very happy Judge Caldwell came to his senses,” she said. “He said he made a mistake and he is in agreement with LFT.”

Johnson also said she hopes the news will “boost teacher’s morale in the parish and in the state.”

With this ruling, Caldwell has thrown out a series of sweeping education changes pushed by Jindal in the 2012 legislative session that:

• Decreased the power of local school boards over hiring and firing decisions.

Forced the state superintendent’s review of local school superintendent contracts.

Took out seniority-based protections for teachers during layoffs.

Made it harder for teachers to reach tenure status.

Eliminated a statewide salary schedule for teachers.

*The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Posted By: Naomi R. Burgess On: 3/5/2013

Title: 2nd Grade Teacher

It's about time something goes right for us!!! Thank you Steve for sticking to your guns! I'm proud to be part of the LFT family! This is encouraging in the midst of a very trying year!

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