Jindal sued by group of parents over efforts to dial back Common Core reforms

By Louisiana Record reports | Jul 22, 2014

NEW ORLEANS – A group of Louisiana parents have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal over what they deem to be his, and other administration officials', overstepping of responsibilities and duties by suspending state contracts with assessments for public school students that meet Common Core standards.

Navis Hill, Michael Stenson, Amanda Stenson, Illumani Johnson, Erin Comeax, Latricia Bowers, Carrie Adams, Courtney Dumas, Catherine Golden and Choice Foundation filed suit against Bobby Jindal, in his official capacity as Governor of the State of Louisiana; State of Louisiana, through the Division of Administration, Office of Contractual Review; Kristy Nichols, in her official capacity a Commissioner, Division of Administration for the State of Louisiana and Pamela Bartfay Rice, in her official capacity as interim director, Office of Contractual Review, Division of Administration for the State of Louisiana in the 19th Judicial District Court on June 22.

The plaintiffs are all parents who have children in public schools in Louisiana in Orleans, Jefferson, East Baton Rouge and Ascension Parishes. They allege that Jindal has interfered with the state legislature’s authority role to set educational policy and the Louisiana State Board of Secondary and Elementary Education’s (BESE) ability to interpret and implement that policy.

In particular, the plaintiffs claim that the defendants are attempting to usurp power from the legislature and BESE by issuing executive orders that interfere with BESE decisions regarding the renewal of contracts with third party contractors who provide year-end assessments for students. In fact, the lawsuit states that Jindal has issued an executive order interrupting the contracts for the upcoming school year, leaving the state without any year-end assessments for students.

The plaintiffs contend that if the actions of Jindal and the other defendants are allowed to stand then they it will jeopardize the stability of the competitive bid process and all existing contracts between state agencies and vendors. According to the filing, the Louisiana state legislature has sole responsibility for the establishment and maintenance of a public schools system and that BESE is tasked with the supervision of public schools. BESE is comprised of an 11 member board, eight of which are elected by voters in corresponding districts.

Jindal is accused of issuing two illegal executive orders regarding the competitive bidding process in obtaining assessments for students. BESE is accused of not complying with state law in implementing assessments by favoring nationally recognized standardized tests instead of also considering other assessments for the upcoming school year. In addition, the defendants are accused of violating the separation of powers and going beyond the scope of their powers granted by the state constitution.

The plaintiffs seek an injunction to void Jindal’s executive orders and reverse the actions of the defendants.

The plaintiffs are represented by Stephen H. Kupperman of New Orleans-based Barrasso Usdin Kupperman Freeman & Sarver LLC.

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