Posted: Aug 20, 2013 3:39 PM
Updated: Aug 20, 2013 5:18 PM
BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Association of Educators called today for Gov. Bobby Jindal and State Superintendent of Education John White to work with them over a teacher tenure law declared unconstitutional by two state judges this year.
LAE leaders said they they will continue to push for policies to improve Act 1, which changed teacher job protections and the power wielded by school boards and superintendents.
"It's time we take a step back and re-think these extreme policies," said LAE President Debbie Meaux. "We're asking Governor Jindal and Superintendent White to seriously examine these issues and fix them."
News 2 reached out to the Governor's Office and Deparment of Education for comment on the LAE's request. A spokesperson for the state Department of Education emailed the following:
"The union is doing what unions do - protecting jobs. The procedures under Act 1 were drafted carefully in order to comply with the U.S. and Louisiana constitutions, and in order to protect every kid's right to have a great teacher."
Jindal also said he believed the reforms in Act 1 were constitutional, and the judgements against it would be turned over on appeal.
"We're always willing to work with stakeholders to improve education in Louisiana," Jindal said in an emailed press release. "We continue to work with teachers, superintendents, principals and school board members to make sure we have a great teacher in every classroom."
Recently a state judge ruled the Monroe City School Board violated the constitutional rights of a tenured teacher facing possible termination by using the guidelines in Act 1. Judge Benjamin Jones ruled the policies violated the teacher's 14th Amendment right to due process.
A state judge in Baton Rouge also ruled earlier this year Act 1 was unconstitutional because of how it was passed. The state Supreme Court ordered a review of that ruling, which is still pending.
LAE leaders said they warned lawmakers the policies were unconstitutional or improper before Act 1 was passed, but their proposals were opposed or never considered.
"Rather than taking us seriously, we were brushed off in some instances and constantly accused of supporting the status quo," Meaux said. "We are open to working with the governor and his team in order to make this law work, but it's going to take some serious collaboration."