Education

Aug 12, 2014 7:19 PM by AP WRITER MELINDA DESLATTE

Jindal seeks to avoid deposition on Common Core

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Gov. Bobby Jindal's lawyer said Tuesday that the Republican governor is protected from questioning under oath in a legal dispute over his actions to undermine the Common Core education standards.

Attorney Jimmy Faircloth told a judge that lawyers seeking to force Jindal to submit to a deposition haven't met the standards required for questioning a sitting Louisiana governor under state law. He asked Judge Todd Hernandez to prohibit Jindal's deposition.

Hernandez didn't immediately rule on that request or on a Jindal administration bid to dismiss most of a lawsuit filed by parents and teachers who accuse the governor of violating the Louisiana Constitution in his efforts against the multi-state Common Core standards.

It was the first hearing before a state district judge for the politically heated dispute over Louisiana's use of Common Core, math and English standards that have been adopted by more than 40 states, describing what students should know after completing each grade.

Jindal once supported the standards as improving student preparation for college and careers. But Jindal, who is considering a 2016 presidential campaign, now opposes them as an Obama administration effort to meddle in state education policy.

Jindal suspended state testing contracts to keep education officials from buying testing material aligned with Common Core. The move has stalled standardized testing plans in public schools.

Parents and teachers who support the standards filed a lawsuit, alleging Jindal overstepped his authority. The state education board joined in suing the governor.

Jindal "is a party to this. It is his actions that created this entire lawsuit, and I've got a right to ask him questions," said Stephen Kupperman, the attorney representing the parents and teachers.

Lawyers for the Jindal administration argued in Tuesday's hearing that the parents and teachers don't have the legal standing to file most claims made in the lawsuit.

But they said if the lawsuit is allowed to continue, lawyers for the parents and teachers shouldn't be allowed to seek depositions of Jindal, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols and two administration officials involved in state contracting.

Wendell Clark, an attorney representing Jindal's Division of Administration, said the parents and teachers aren't involved in the testing contracts and can't sue over them.

"The plaintiffs simply have no right or cause of action to challenge the Division of Administration and its oversight of state contracts," Clark said.

He said even if they had the right to sue, the lawsuit would be premature because they didn't go through the administrative process for appealing contracting decisions.

Kupperman said the lawsuit wasn't about the state's procurement code, but was about Jindal's use of contracting oversight to violate constitutional provisions governing education policy.

Jindal once supported the standards as improving student preparation for college and careers. But Jindal, who is considering a 2016 presidential campaign, now opposes them as an Obama administration effort to meddle in state education policy.

Jindal suspended state testing contracts to keep education officials from buying testing material aligned with Common Core. The move has stalled standardized testing plans in public schools.

Parents and teachers who support the standards filed a lawsuit, alleging Jindal overstepped his authority. The state education board joined in suing the governor.

Jindal "is a party to this. It is his actions that created this entire lawsuit, and I've got a right to ask him questions," said Stephen Kupperman, the attorney representing the parents and teachers.

Lawyers for the Jindal administration argued in Tuesday's hearing that the parents and teachers don't have the legal standing to file most claims made in the lawsuit.

But they said if the lawsuit is allowed to continue, lawyers for the parents and teachers shouldn't be allowed to seek depositions of Jindal, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols and two administration officials involved in state contracting.

Wendell Clark, an attorney representing Jindal's Division of Administration, said the parents and teachers aren't involved in the testing contracts and can't sue over them.

"The plaintiffs simply have no right or cause of action to challenge the Division of Administration and its oversight of state contracts," Clark said.

He said even if they had the right to sue, the lawsuit would be premature because they didn't go through the administrative process for appealing contracting decisions.

Kupperman said the lawsuit wasn't about the state's procurement code, but was about Jindal's use of contracting oversight to violate constitutional provisions governing education policy.

"The use of the procurement laws is a subterfuge. It's a disguise," Kupperman said.

Another hearing in the lawsuit is set for next week.

Meanwhile, a separate lawsuit has been filed by 17 state lawmakers who oppose Common Core and allege education leaders didn't follow the law in enacting the standards. A hearing in that lawsuit is scheduled for Friday.

 

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