Law & Courts

New Lawsuit Challenges Adoption of Common Core in Louisiana

By Andrew Ujifusa — July 21, 2014 3 min read
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A lawsuit challenging Louisiana’s 2010 adoption of the Common Core State Standards has been filed by 17 state legislators, who allege that the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education did not provide adequate public notice of the state’s commitment to adopt the standards.

The suit, filed July 21, alleges that the state board, along with Superintendent John White, did not follow a section of the Louisiana Administrative Procedures Act that requires certain rule changes by state government to be published in the official state Register at least 70 days prior to the adoption of the rule.

The lawmakers allege that because the notice of the board’s intent to adopt the common core wasn’t published at all in the register, let alone in a timely fashion, members of the public were “denied their procedural due process rights to have their comments and concerns heard by Defendants prior to BESE’s adoption, and BESE’s and/or the Superintendent’s implementation and enforcement of the Common Core Standards.”

Louisiana is arguably ground zero for political fights over the common core as well as the aligned assessments. Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, has been fighting with the state board for more than a month over whether the state can administer tests aligned by the standards and designed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers for the 2014-15 school year.

In their complaint, filed in the state’s 19th Judicial District Court, the legislators want the court to order the state to suspend any implementation of the common core.

When I called up state Rep. Brett Geymann, a Republican and a consistent foe of the common core in Louisiana who is one of the plaintiffs, he said the complaint isn’t intended to sow chaos in schools, but to highlight the opaque process the state board used to adopt common core without public oversight. The complaint notes that while the state board published other notices of past standards adoptions, it was not done for common core.

“The lawsuit may be technical, but the idea behind why we’re doing this is not,” Geymann told me, adding that the plaintiffs gave Jindal a heads-up that they were filing the complaint, but did not consult with the governor’s office about the substance of the complaint.

How have the state board and White responded? They said in a July 21 conference call that while the state board did not follow the Administrative Procedures Act in the common-core-adoption process, there’s no legal requirement for the board to do so, regardless of whether standards-adoption followed the act in prior years.

“They’ve alleged this before in different letters and different legislative hearings. So this is not new,” said White, referring to a letter Geymann and other lawmakers sent to Jindal in May.

White said that while this suit is not a serious and substantive problem, the fight over the state’s common-core test remains a big problem since the contract for that test has been suspended by Jindal.

State board Chairman Chas Roemer added that the legislature has already debated whether to require the state to drop the common core but decided not to, making the plaintiffs’ allegations desperate as well as unfounded.

“This seems like another maneuver to slow us down, to bog us down,” he said.

Also in response, the state board released documentation from 2010 showing that the board sought feedback from K-12 stakeholders before the standards were adopted.

UPDATE: One day after this lawsuit was filed, another lawsuit related to the common core was filed July 22 by a group of parents and others. But this newest suit essentially takes the opposite viewpoint: This July 22 legal complaint targets Jindal, arguing that the governor is illegally blocking the state’s testing contract, and is causing “immediate chaos in the education system,” The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge reported.

The state school board and White aren’t parties to this suit, but in a statement stressed the urgent need to resolve the content of the state assessment, with schools in Louisiana starting in three weeks.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.