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Teachers To Fight Longer School Day in Court

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Louisiana's largest teachers' organization has challenged a mandate to lengthen the school day in elementary schools by 30 minutes, claiming that it violates the state's tenure law.

The lawsuit, filed in the 19th Judicial District Court for the Parish of East Baton Rouge by the Louisiana Association of Educators, also claims that the state board of elementary and secondary education exceeded its authority in requiring the lengthened school day, which is scheduled to go into effect next school year.

Tenure Law

Because teachers will be required to work the additional 30 minutes a day without additional pay, the lengthened school day means, in essence, a reduction in salary, contends the teachers' group, an affiliate of the National Education Association.

The state's tenure law prohibits "demotions in status or salary" without due process, explained Pamela Walker, a lawyer representing the lae A formal hearing to determine whether a teacher is incompetent, willfully neglectful of duty, or dishonest must be conducted prior to any change in his or her status or salary, Ms. Walker said.

According to Jesse M. Spears, executive director of the lae, the ad-dition of 30 minutes to the school day would mean that some teachers in Louisiana would be required to work the equivalent of an additional 13 days each school year.

'A Dangerous Precedent'

Adding days without providing additional pay to teachers sets a "dangerous precedent," he said.

The state board adopted the provision to lengthen the school day last spring in order to provide time for foreign-language instruction, according to Louis Michelli, education administrator for the board. In July, after lae officials said they would sue to prevent the regulation from taking effect, board members voted to delay implementation until 1985-86.

Both houses of the legislature adopted legislation last spring requiring that the time not be added, but Gov. Edwin W. Edwards vetoed the bills.--cc

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