LFT files lawsuit challenging Act 749

As first announced on June 18th, 2010, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, the East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers and the Jefferson Federation of Teachers will file a lawsuit today challenging the constitutionality of Act 749/ HB 1368 (“Red Tape Reduction and Local Waiver Empowerment Program”) in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge.

Act 749, which Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law yesterday, authorizes the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to grant local school superintendents waivers or exemptions to virtually every law governing public education in Louisiana.

“As of June 30, 2010, Governor Jindal has signed more than 750 bills into law. And, while the reach of Act 749 is limited to public education, this Act diminishes the value and respect for all law by implying that law is analogous with red tape,” said Monaghan. “Because we support the legislative process and the value of law, we have no choice but to challenge the constitutionality of this act.”

BESE is a policy-making body comprising 11 members. Eight are elected, and three are appointed by the governor. BESE is one of more than 450 Louisiana Boards and Commissions.

“If allowed to stand, this law will permit BESE to act as a legislative body,” Monaghan said. “BESE will be allowed to decide which laws passed by the legislature will be enforced, and in which communities. The opportunity for selective enforcement of state law will open the door for accusations of disparate treatment from any district denied a requested waiver.”

“By outsourcing its legislative authority to BESE and allowing the selective enforcement of duly enacted laws,” Monaghan continued, “we believe the State Legislature has unconstitutionally ceded its authority to another entity.”

Monaghan said that Act 749 is very different from the state’s charter school law, which allows waivers of laws and policies that affect other public schools.

“In establishing charter schools, the legislature itself was explicit regarding exemption from or waiver of law,” Monaghan said. “But with Act 749 the legislature surrenders to BESE the power to cherry-pick which laws can be flouted, and in which school districts. That is a crucial distinction.”

Federation General Counsel Larry Samuel said, “We do not believe that we are breaking new ground with this suit,” Samuel said. “We believe there is adequate, settled case law proving that the legislature does not have the constitutional auth

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