BATON ROUGE -- After Governor Bobby Jindal and Superintendent John White failed to find some common ground to common core last week.
On Monday, more than a dozen lawmakers announced they're deciding to take matters into their own hands.
Seventeen legislators, most from south Louisiana, are suing BESE and superintendent White to stop common core.
White dismissed the lawsuit, calling it "frivolous" in a conference call on Monday.
"They've alleged this before and in different letters and different legislative hearings, so this is not new," he said.
The lawmakers are asking for a ruling on whether BESE and the department of education failed to properly enact the new common core academic standards.
They specifically site the Administrative Procedures Act, which governs rule-making in all agencies of state government. They also claim the full details of the common core standards was not properly advertised to the public or given full legislative oversight before it was implemented.
The legislators contend that BESE and DOE never implemented the changes in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act, which prescribes a specific process, requiring public notice, a 90 day comment period, open hearings and legislative oversight.
The lawmakers say this procedure of advertisement is reflected in bulletins published in the Louisiana register that chronicle the current state of administrative law. They claim there are no bulletins for Louisiana educational standards more recent than November 2005.
"They're making a claim, that while it appears legitimate, actually has no validity, because there is no requirement, to do the very thing that they're alleging that BESE didn't do," said White. "The law says, 'BESE, you need to approve the standards that the department establishes.' Well, those two things happened doesn't say anything about the Administrative Procedures Act."
White's comments in the conference call Monday are fighting back to the claims by the legislators.
"The law came in and said standards based assessment implemented by BESE shall be based on nationally recognized content standards, well, there's only one set of nationally recognized content standards in English and math, called Common Core State Standards."
"There's no law saying that BESE has to following the administrative procedures act and while it is true that they allege the common core standards did not go through the APA, so it is also true of the vast majority of things that BESE does," White said. "The constitution empowers BESE to supervise and control the public schools, pursuant to the law. "
The petitioning lawmakers point out that in the past, changes to education standards were implemented properly under the act.
"Everything that the law requires to be done, was done in 2010. And it is false, it creates a false impression to say that BESE had to follow the administrative procedures act when the law simply does not say it," said White. "The law obligates the department to establish content standards - this happened. They required BESE to approve. This happened. And the standards should be nationally recognized, this happened, also."
For weeks, BESE has been considering a lawsuit against the governor --- which means two legal disputes over common core could happen at the same time in the state.
"This just seems like another maneuver to slow us down, to bog us down, to go outside of the legislative and BESE constitutional powers and try to find a way to stop implementation of common core," said Chas Roemer, BESE president. "The premise of their complaint is false. We did not have to follow the APA in order adopt the standards. We adopted the standards clearly and we followed the law as law required."
BESE and White provided documents from when they passed the common core state standards, including board minutes and the schedule they set for implementing common core.
"So, pursuant to this law -- in 2010, BESE engaged in a lengthy engagement process and they approved the common core state standards," said White. "Bottom line, if something is to be passed into rule -- has to be passed into rule through the process that is being discussed -- the law has to obligate. It has to say 'you must do that.' There's no law here. The law does say that BESE and the department must do a bunch of things...and they did them."
(See the lawmaker's petition below):
CIVIL DISTRICT COURT FOR THE PARISH OF EAST BATON ROUGE
STATE OF LOUISIANA
NO.__________ DIVISION____ SECTION: _____
JAMES ARMES, TERRY BROWN, HENRY BURNS, BRETT GEYMANN,
JOHNNY GUINN, LANCE HARRIS, JOE HARRISON, KENNY HAVARD, BOB
HENSGENS, CAMERON HENRY, PAUL HOLLIS, BARRY IVEY, SAM JONES,
ROGERS POPE, DEE RICHARD, JOHN SCHRODER, AND LANAR WHITNEY
(A/K/A CONCERNED CITIZENS OF LOUISIANA)
STATE OF LOUISIANA, THROUGH THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF
EDUCATION’S SUPERTINDENDANT, JOHN WHITE, AND THE LOUISIANA
STATE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
PETITION TO SUSPEND IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF
“COMMON CORE” FOR FAILURE TO FOLLOW THE PROVISIONS OF
LOUISIANA LAW, AND FOR INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
NOW INTO COURT, through undersigned counsel, come the Petitioners, James
Armes, Terry Brown, Henry Burns, Brett Geyman, Johnny Guinn, Lance Harris, Joe
Harrison, Kenny Havard, Bob Hensgens, Cameron Henry, Paul Hollis, Barry Ivey, Sam
Jones, Rogers Pope, Dee Richard, John Schroder, and Lanar Whitney (collectively
hereinafter “Concerned Citizens of Louisiana”), who respectfully submit the following
Petition to Suspend Implementation and Enforcement of “Common Core State
Standards” (referred to herein as “Common Core”) for Failure to Follow the Provisions
of Louisiana Law and for Injunctive Relief:
Made defendants herein are:
(A) Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education,
(hereinafter referred to as “BESE”), which is a body corporate
created by the Louisiana Constitution VIII, § 3 and service may be
made at 1201 North Third Street, Suite 5-190, Baton Rouge, LA
(B) Mr. John White, in his official capacity as Louisiana
Superintendent of Education for the Louisiana Department of
Education, who may be served at 1201 North Third Street, Baton
Rouge, LA 70802.
Plaintiffs are residents and tax payers of the State of Louisiana. Several plaintiffs
herein have children who are students within the state public school system.
Defendant, BESE, is a body corporate created by the Louisiana Constitution
Article VIII, § 3. BESE is charged with the duty to “supervise and control the public
elementary and secondary schools and special schools under its jurisdiction and shall
have budgetary responsibility for all funds appropriated or allocated by the state for
those schools, all as provided by law.”
Defendant, John White, as the Superintendent of the Louisiana Department of
Education, and in accordance with the Louisiana Constitution Article VIII, § 2, is the
public official charged with the duty of being the administrative head of the Department
of Education, and implementing the policies of the state board of elementary and
secondary education and the laws affecting schools under his jurisdiction.
All defendants herein are required to follow all Louisiana laws with reference
to the adoption and implementation of policies and rules which impact the educational
opportunities of Louisiana Public School children.
Common Core is a set(s) of standards/rules that impact the education of Louisiana
public school children. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is currently set to
replace the Louisiana English and Mathematics Standards/Grade-Level Expectations
(GLEs), which were added to the State’s standards and benchmarks in 2004.
Common Core is set to become fully implemented in Louisiana public schools
during the school year of 2014-15.
On or about May 20, 2010, the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and
Secondary Education, in its Board Meeting Minutes, entitled Agenda Item 9-I-5, adopted
a resolution that committed BESE to adopt the controversial Common Core Standards
no later than July 2010.
On or about July 2010, according to BESE’s website, Louisiana “joined with 44
other states and the District of Columbia by adopting the Common Core State
Standards, a set of educational standards developed by a consortium of states to
ensure consistent, quality education from school and from state to state.”
Petitioners fiercely contend that the adoption of these educational standards and/or
the development of rules for the implementation and enforcement of these standards
was, and is, in direct violation of the Louisiana Administrative Procedures Act (LAPA)
Title 49: 953 (3) (b): Procedure for adoption of rules, which reads:
Notice of the proposed rule shall be published at least once in the Louisiana
Register and shall be submitted with a full text of the proposed rule to the
Louisiana Register at least seventy days prior to the date the department proposes
to formally adopt the rule. The Office of the State Register may omit from
the Louisiana Register any such proposed rule the publication of which would
be unduly cumbersome, expensive, or otherwise inexpedient, if the Louisiana
Register contains a notice stating the general subject matter of the omitted
proposed rule, the process being employed by the department for adoption of
the proposed rule, and stating how a copy of the proposed rule may be obtained.
Petitioners show that previous changes to educational standards were properly
submitted as “Bulletins” in the Louisiana Register. However, the Louisiana Register fails
to reflect that the “full text” of the proposed rule for adoptions and/or implementation of
the Common Core standards were ever published, as required by law, or a notice of the
general subject matter, as required by the LAPA.
In failing to comply with the Louisiana Administrative Procedures Act Title 49:
953 (3) (b), said Petitioners, and other citizens of Louisiana, were denied their
procedural due process rights to have their comments and concerns heard by
Defendants prior to BESE’s adoption, and BESE’s and/or the Superintendents
implementation and enforcement of the Common Core Standards.
Irreparable harm to children, parents and teachers of children in the State public
schools, and to taxpayers and citizens of the State exists, as the State public school
year is set to begin in approximately one month from the filing of this petition. Unless an
injunction issues herein by the Court, needless time and resources will be expended in
the teaching, testing, learning, and financing of Common Core, all to the detriment of
the citizens of Louisiana.
As a result, Petitioners are requesting this Court to issue an immediate injunction
to suspend the implementation and enforcement of Common Core State Standards for
failure to follow the provisions of Louisiana Law until such required notice is made by
the defendants and for immediate and preliminary injunctive relief during the pendency
of the notice process contemplated under the LAPA.
WHEREFORE, Petitioners, Concerned Citizens of Louisiana, pray that
Defendants be served with a copy of this Petition to Suspend Implementation and
Enforcement of Common Core for Failure to Follow the Provisions of Louisiana Law
and for Temporary Injunctive Relief and be required to timely answer same; and after
due proceedings, that judgment be rendered in Petitioners’ favor and against the
defendants including attorneys’ fees, legal interest from date of judicial demand, and all
just and equitable relief allowed by law.
BOLEN, PARKER, BRENNER, LEE, &
A PROFESSIONAL LAW CORPORATION
Daniel G. Brenner (Bar No. 18136)
Carmella Parker (Bar No. 28462)
P.O. Box 11590
709 Versailles Boulevard 71303
Alexandria, Louisiana 71315-1590
Phone: (318) 445-8236
Facsimile: (318) 443-1770
ATTORNEYS FOR PETITIONERS
Mr. John White, in his official capacity as Superintendent
Louisiana Department of Education
1201 North Third Street
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802-5243
Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
1201 North Third Street, Suite 5-190
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802
Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell
Office of the Louisiana Attorney General
1885 North Third Street
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802
Ms. Kristy Nichols
Division of Administration
Office of Risk Management
1201 N. 3rd
Floor, Suite 210
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70821-9106
Mr. Bud Thompson
Division of Risk Management
Office of Risk Management
Street Street, Suite G-192
1201 N. 3rd
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802