Jindal looking at tweaks to teacher tenure law
Gov. Bobby Jindal
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal signaled Wednesday that he’s willing to make changes to his 2012 law that made it tougher for teachers to reach the job protection status of tenure.
Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin said the Republican governor is working with the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, an education union that has filed a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality, and superintendents on possible tweaks to the law.
The sweeping set of changes, known as Act 1, made it harder for teachers to achieve tenure and reworked the process for appealing firing decisions, among many other changes.
The teachers’ group and other critics say the rewritten policies violated their due process rights under the state and federal constitutions. A teacher facing possible dismissal has filed a lawsuit in Monroe.
A tenured teacher who is accused of being ineffective and is fired can request a review hearing before a three-person panel, with one person appointed by the school superintendent, one person appointed by the principal who did the firing and the other person chosen by a teacher. The teachers’ group says that weights the hearing against the teacher.
Plotkin wouldn’t offer specifics about what Jindal is willing to adjust. Any changes would be considered in the upcoming legislative session that begins March 10.
“The intent of Act 1 was to create a fair process that ensured a timely decision for the school system and for the teacher. We’re working with LFT and the superintendents to make sure that the law lives up to its intent, such as ensuring due process before the superintendent makes a decision and that the panel process is fair and timely,” he said in an email statement.
LFT President Steve Monaghan said the two sides have started talking about potential changes to Act 1, but haven’t struck any agreement. He said the union hasn’t seen a proposal on paper.
“They reached out. There was conversation. It’s preliminary. And it was my understanding the interest was to fix the act, to see if there’s a place that we can fix it,” Monaghan said. “Everybody realizes that there are problems.”
The LFT has lodged similar complaints about due process rights in a lawsuit in Baton Rouge.
In that case, a district judge declared the reworking of the teacher tenure law unconstitutional because it bundled too many objectives spanning Louisiana’s education laws into one bill. The judge didn’t rule on the due process complaint.
The Jindal administration is appealing that decision to the Louisiana Supreme Court.