On Second Thought, Tenure Changes Tossed

Mar 4, 2013

Judge Michael Caldwell heard this case in the 19th District Court for the first time in December. Then, he upheld parts of the law - now he's struck down the whole thing.
Credit Amy Jeffries / WRKF

A state judge has thrown out rules passed last session tying teacher tenure and pay to classroom performance. Monday's decision is a turnaround from the same judge’s previous ruling.

In December, Judge Michael Caldwell threw out parts of what’s been called the “Teacher Tenure Act,” – parts that didn’t directly address teacher tenure, but made rules for school boards, visiting teachers, superintendents and principals.

That day, the governor touted the ruling as a success because it kept his tenure overhauls. Now the judge is saying the whole thing has to go. 

Both rulings are based on the “Single Object Rule” – a rule that limits how much can be put into one bill.

Caldwell agreed with the plaintiffs’ reasoning in their request for a new judgment. Larry Samuels represented the plaintiffs, including the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. “The entire bill, we claimed was unconstitutional," Samuels said, "so for a judge to come down and say, ‘Well, I find that this section constitutional, and the other section not,’ – we claimed that was inappropriate.”

Governor Jindal issued a written statement saying the state would appeal this ruling in the state supreme court. He said the people of Louisiana has voted for this reform.

Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin clarified: The governor was referring to the 2011 BESE elections. The governor campaigned for several candidates, and succeeded in helping enough of them win seats to handedly pass changes to the system through the board.

The plaintiffs said the Jindal administration bundled the reforms to ensure that they were passed. This is the third set of overhauls that have failed in court because of a constitutional technicality.