BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB/AP) - The politically-heated dispute over Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards made its way to a state district courtroom Tuesday for its first hearing before a judge.
The hearing involves a lawsuit filed by parents and teachers who support Common Core and accuse the governor of violating the Louisiana Constitution in his actions against the multi-state standards. It started around 10:30 a.m. and ended around noon. Judge Todd Hernandez will rule on the motions after he weighs out everything. No date was given on when a ruling is expected.
The lawsuit claims the governor overstepped his authority in suspending testing contracts to stop the purchase of Common Core-aligned testing material. Gov. Bobby Jindal is named a defendant in the case, but is not present at the hearing. He has two attorneys in court in his place. Wendell Clark is representing the Division of Administration. He said the plaintiffs have no right of action to challenge.
The plaintiffs are the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), several parents from Orleans and East Baton Rouge parishes and an Ascension Parish teacher. Their main attorney is Stephen Kupperman.
"The governor issued executive orders to interfere with BESE decisions, without authority and contrary to the Louisiana Constitution," the plaintiffs said.
They added it's astounding that the governor and Division of Administration say that parents and teachers have no interest in their students' performances. They also said the New Orleans charter schools spent numerous hours preparing teachers and federal funds. Now, it's all at risk of being lost.
BESE filed an intervention petition to be included in the suit. The board said it may not be a party, but any decision impacts it. The officials asked the judge to listen to their argument before he renders any decision.
"I don't know if BESE has standing to challenge the executive order," Jimmy Faircloth, an attorney for Jindal, said. "They should be allowed in the case, but will lose."
"We want the governor's deposition, but Jindal claims he's protected by executive privilege," Kupperman said. "Executive privilege doesn't apply to factual information or decisions about departments."
Faircloth said the governor can't be compelled to testify unless he's personally a defendant or he has some factual eyewitness testimony.
"I want the governor under oath to make sure what he says is admissible under evidence. It's his action that created this suit," Kupperman said.
Jindal, who opposes Common Core, is asking Hernandez to dismiss much of the lawsuit. His lawyer also wants the judge to forbid depositions of the governor, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols and other administration officials.
A hearing for a different Common Core lawsuit between legislators and the Department of Education is set to go before Judge Tim Kelley on Friday.