On Wednesday afternoon, October 15, the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed a 19th Judicial District Court ruling that Act 1 of 2012 violated the constitutional ban on multiple objects in a single bill.
Obviously the Louisiana Federation of Teachers is disappointed by the high court’s decision. After a district court ruled three times that Act 1 is wholly or in part unconstitutional, we had hoped for a different outcome.
Act 1 amended and reenacted nine statutes and enacted two entirely new statutes. It tied teacher salaries, tenure, promotions and termination to a new evaluation system. It changed the way school boards contract with superintendents, altered the general powers of school boards, delegated new authority to principals and superintendents and mandated different reduction-in-force policies.
The Supreme Court ruling marks the end of the court battle over Act 1. The LFT has always maintained, however, that the ultimate solution to the problems caused by Act 1 of 2012 will be legislative and not judicial.
The bundling of objects, the basis of our original lawsuit, was just one of the reasons that we considered Act 1 so ill-conceived. Another of our concerns, the way in which Act 1 dealt with the discipline and dismissal of teachers, was partially corrected with the adoption of Act 570 in the 2014 Regular Legislative Session. Further legislative action is still needed to ensure fairness and accuracy.
Numerous Act 1 issues involving teacher tenure, evaluations, due process rights, the responsibilities of school boards and much more remain problematic.
Act 570 should serve as a model for future cooperation between educators and lawmakers. The LFT intends to revisit other offensive sections of Act 1 in coming legislative sessions.