LAE files lawsuit against Jindal's Education Reform Plan

Published: Jun. 21, 2012 at 10:05 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 27, 2012 at 10:22 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - News Release from Louisiana Association of Educators

BATON ROUGE, LA - Leaders from LAE affiliates across the state gathered in Baton Rouge Friday to officially file papers challenging the constitutionality of Act 2, the voucher bill, and Senate Concurrent Resolution 99, the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) resolution, of the Louisiana Legislature's 2012 Regular Session.

"We tried to convince the legislature that the proposed laws were unconstitutional, but they were unmoved by our pleas," said LAE President Joyce Haynes. "It's now time for us to appeal to the courts."

Earlier this month, the LAE Board of Directors directed its executive director and legal counsel to file suit challenging the constitutionality of Act 2 and SCR 99 on the grounds that both violate the Louisiana Constitution by diverting public funding to non-public schools.

In addition, the laws divert the local portions of the per-pupil amount allocated under the MFP for purposes not approved by voters. LAE Attorney Brian Blackwell of Blackwell & Associates says this not only violates the Louisiana Constitution, but it also goes against local property and sales tax referendums and ordinances.

"Voters approved taxing themselves to better the public schools in their home parishes. No voter was ever asked to approve public funding of non-public schools," said Blackwell. "The use of local funds for non-public schools violates the specific directions of the electorate."

The laws' constitutional violations don't stop there. The passage of Act 2 violated a section of the Louisiana Constitution that requires each bill introduced to the legislature to be confined to one object. In addition, the legislature's passage of SCR 99 was unconstitutional because it didn't't receive the two-thirds vote required to pass.

"It's appalling that BESE and the Superintendent of Education continue to present the legislature with an illegal, unconstitutional MFP formula for approval. It's even more appalling that the legislature continues to approve an unconstitutional formula by the manipulation of its own rules. "

Blackwell said he and the rest of the LAE legal team intend to vigorously oppose any and all practices that violate statutory or constitutional rights of any teacher or other support employee. The team will monitor any legal issues surrounding Act 1, the so-called tenure reform bill, and will work with local association leaders in order to protect members' working conditions and compensation rights.

"The union is made up of taxpayers, parents, and hardworking public school employees who are entitled to stand up for their constitutional rights," said Haynes. "This lawsuit is providing us with the ability to do just that."