Split ruling issued in teacher tenure lawsuit

BATON ROUGE, LA (AP/WAFB) - A Baton Rouge judge has tossed out part of an education revamp pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindal as unconstitutional, but has upheld the centerpiece provisions that changed teacher tenure and salary laws.
Judge Michael Caldwell ruled Tuesday that the section of the legislation dealing with the authority of local school boards violated the state constitution because it didn't fit into the stated objective of the bill.
Caldwell's ruling does away with changes that lessened the power of local school boards over hiring and firing and that required the state education superintendent's review of local school superintendent contracts.
Maintained as constitutional were provisions eliminating statewide teacher pay scales and making it tougher for teachers to reach the job protection status of tenure.

"We are going to take this to the appeal courts," says Steven Monaghan of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. "The judge chose to split the baby in this case."

The LFT says the bill had too many objectives and should have been spread out over multiple laws. The Jindal Administration says all of the items in the bill constitute one action, which was teacher reform.

"We appreciate the judge's ruling. Today's ruling is a victory for students and teachers. This ruling upholds the core purpose of the law – rewarding effective teachers and supporting ineffective teachers who want to improve," said Gov. Jindal in a statement.

Lawyers for the state did not comment after the decision was rendered.

The lawsuit now will go to an appeals court for its review.

Copyright 2012 WAFB. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.