Judge to Rule in Teacher Tenure Suit

Dec 17, 2012

Teachers protest Act 1 at the capitol April 4, 2012.
Credit Ashley Westerman / WRKF

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Last spring at the capitol, thousands of public school teachers rallied against the bill that would tie their pay and tenure to performance through an evaluation system, which was rolled out at the start of this school year.

A state judge says he will rule Tuesday on whether Act 1 was passed in violation of Louisiana’s constitution.

The bill encompassed much more than teacher pay and tenure. It included changes to the powers of local school boards, the duties of principals, and it required reviews of superintendent contracts by the state.

In court Monday, Larry Samuel, a lawyer for the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, said lawmakers packed all that in so they could railroad the controversial legislation through. Act 1 was the first to be passed by the legislature last session and was signed by the governor just six weeks after it was introduced.

Samuel said the act was passed despite the constitutional restriction against multiple objects in a single bill.

The state’s lawyer, Jimmy Faircloth, countered that no legislator had offered an amendment to strip any provisions. Their hands were not tied, he said.

If Judge Michael Caldwell does find any provisions to be unrelated to teacher employment, Faircloth asked that he throw out only those parts, rather than tossing Act 1 whole hog.

After hearing the arguments, the judge said he has gone, “back and forth on this case,” giving little indication which way he will rule.