Covering Louisiana

Mar 4, 2013 5:19 PM by Janet Hollinshead

LAE agrees with tenure law ruling

Leaders of the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) congratulate the Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT) on State District Judge R. Michael Caldwell's decision to throw out the new teacher tenure law, also known as Act 1 of the 2012 Legislative Session. On Monday, Judge Caldwell announced that he reversed his December 2012 ruling which originally agreed with key parts of the law. After a second review of the title of the bill, Judge Caldwell ruled that Act 1 did, in fact, violate the Louisiana Constitution. LAE President Joyce Haynes said the ruling is a significant win for educators across the state.

"This is the second of Governor Jindal's education overhaul laws struck down by the court," she said. "We told Governor Jindal, Superintendent of Education John White, and legislators that these proposed laws were unconstitutional, but our pleas fell upon deaf ears. We applaud Judge Caldwell for upholding the law and hope that this sets a precedent as we head into the 2013 Legislative Session."
After Governor Jindal rammed his questionable, education overhaul laws through the Louisiana Legislature in 2012, the LAE Board of Directors authorized legal challenges to Act 2 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 99; they reserved taking action against Act 1. Due to the large number of potential local legal scenarios, a decision was made to use association resources to pursue individual legal challenges on a parish by parish basis.

"In our minds it's not just teacher tenure - due process rights - which we have to pursue for public education employees. LAE staff and legal team members from across the state have been proactively working on a number of ongoing challenges in several school districts respective to Act 1's new requirements surrounding individual contracts, employee salary schedules, building fair and transparent reduction in force policies, helping improve teacher evaluation processes, and challenging those procedures designed to punish teachers rather than foster improvement," said Haynes.

During the 2012 Legislative Session, Representative Sam Jones proposed a reasonable change to the state's due process procedure through House Bill 879; LAE supported and fought hard for its passage.

"The governor didn't allow HB 879 to have a fair hearing or up or down vote by the House," said LAE Executive Director Dr. Michael Walker-Jones. "We hope that a more reasonable, rational compromise will prevail this time. LAE actively supported streamlining the tenure review process and modification of the teacher evaluation law. Our goal is to have an evaluation process designed to help improve instruction. We will revisit this legislation in the 2013 Legislative Session," he said.

Haynes went on to note that educators' working conditions are students' learning conditions, and said the state should provide quality conditions for teaching and lifelong learning.

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