Louisiana Sees Flurry Of Common Core Lawsuits

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Blake Neff Reporter
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Louisiana’s education battle has intensified, with a squad of legislators suing to halt the continued implementation of Common Core in the state, followed by Common Core supporters suing Gov. Bobby Jindal over his efforts to block the standards.

Seventeen members of the Louisiana state legislature sued the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) in Baton Rouge district court on Monday, alleging that Common Core’s implementation has violated the state’s Administrative Procedures Act. The new multistate educational standards, they say, were not fully advertised to the public at least 90 days before being officially adopted as state policy.

The legislators launching the suit had previously led an effort in the legislature to repeal Common Core via statute, but despite the support of Jindal, their efforts fell short.

A second lawsuit was filed Tuesday by a group of parents as well as the Choice Foundation, a Louisiana charter school organization. Their lawsuit says Jindal has “sown chaos in the education system” with executive orders that seek to prevent the use of standardized tests tied to the Common Core curriculum. Jindal’s orders are unconstitutional interference with the BESE’s exclusive power to set education policy and should be immediately blocked, the plaintiffs say.

In the past month, Louisiana politics has been wracked by a clash between Governor Jindal and state superintendent of education John White. Jindal, formerly a supporter of Common Core, has turned sharply against it and is trying to use executive orders to force the adoption of new educational standards.

White, backed by BESE, has sought to defend the standards and has advocated launching his own lawsuit against the governor, meaning that Louisiana could be litigating three Common Core lawsuits at the same time.

The conflict has been a particularly bitter one, turning Republicans against one another and making enemies out of figures who were once close allies on issues such as the creation of a school voucher system. Chas Roemer, chairman of the BESE and a Republican, has accused Jindal of forcing the crisis to further 2016 presidential ambitions, an accusation that was repeated by Tuesday’s plaintiffs.

“We don’t want to hold the children of the state hostage to somebody’s political ambitions,” said lawyer Stephen Kupperman in a statement.

The legislators suing BESE said they initially held off on filing in the hopes that Jindal would compel BESE to back down without requiring legal action. The failure of last-ditch negotiations last week between Jindal and White led them to launch the suit now, said Rep. Brett Geymann, one of the legislators leading the effort.

The defendants for both lawsuits were dismissive of the claims made.

“The premise of their complaint is false,”  Roemer told the Times-Picayune. Jindal, meanwhile, said via a spokesperson that the suit against him has “no merit.”

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