Judge again rules tenure law unconstitutional

MONROE, La. (AP) — A state district judge in Monroe ruled Friday that parts of Gov. Bobby Jindal's teacher tenure revamp passed in 2012 are unconstitutional.
District Judge Benjamin Jones upheld a decision he made in August that said the law violates the constitutional rights of teachers facing dismissal. After his August ruling, the state sought to intervene in the lawsuit, filed by DeAnne Williams, a Monroe teacher facing possible dismissal who is represented by the lawyer for the Louisiana Association of Educators.
"It is clear that (the law) does not provide for a full and fair or 'elaborate' post-termination due process hearing before a credible, objective, independent, hearing body," Jones said in Friday's decision.
In a statement later Friday, Jindal said the ruling would be appealed. He notes the opinion only affects the tenure review process. "It does not impact the rest of (the law)," Jindal said.
Jones' ruling is the latest blow against Act 1, which deals with school control and teacher tenure, pay for performance and evaluation and amended multiple laws pertaining to superintendent and school board duties, layoffs, contracts, teacher salaries, teacher hiring/firing and tenure.
In the original lawsuit, Williams said she received notice she was facing possible dismissal. The notice said Williams could be fired without a hearing, and after she would be able to appeal this decision to a three-person panel. Two members of the panel would be chosen by the school superintendent and principal, who likely recommended her dismissal.
This fire/appeal process was the result of changes included in Act 1.
"(Act 1) gives the superintendent the opportunity to influence selection of two of the panel members," Jones' latest decision said. "That's just not a fair procedure."
Jones was forced to re-visit his August decision, after the Louisiana Supreme Court vacated it in January, saying state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell didn't have the opportunity to properly participate in the case.

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