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LFT preparing for rehearing of Act 1 decision

(Baton Rouge – May 31, 2013) The Louisiana Supreme Court today handed down a ruling vacating a lower court decision that Act 1 of 2012 violated the single object provision of the Louisiana Constitution, and remanding the case to the 19th Judicial District Court for a rehearing.

The high court noted that when Judge Michael Caldwell made his ruling last March, he did not have the benefit of the Supreme Court’s opinion in the Act 2 of 2012 lawsuit. That opinion, while upholding a lower court ruling that vouchers cannot be funded through public education’s Minimum Foundation Program, said that Act 2 did not violate the single object provision.

“Because our (Act 2) opinion clarifies the law in this area,” the court wrote, “we conclude it would be beneficial to remand the case to the district court for reconsideration of its ruling in light of our opinion, after appropriate briefing and argument by the parties.”

After conferring with counsel, Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan said that he believes Judge Caldwell made the correct ruling, and that the LFT will be prepared to argue the case again when it is scheduled.

“This ruling will allow Judge Caldwell to fully consider all of the information that is available and issue an accurate opinion,” Monaghan said.

The ruling emphasizes the importance of legislative action to quell the confusion that Act 1 has caused for professional educators, Monaghan said.

“Right now there is a bill pending that would slow down implementation of Act 1 until teachers have a clear idea of what they are supposed to do,” Monaghan said. “The rules must be clear and training must be complete before the consequences of this act are imposed.”

Monaghan said that House Bill 160, which was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives, was blocked by four members of the Senate Education Committee. The bill would suspend consequences of Act 1 for a year. It has been amended onto another bill and still has a chance to be heard before the legislature adjourns on June 6.