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Attorney General Releases Opinion on Public Employee Pay

This week, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry released an official opinion regarding constitutionality of payment to public employees, including teachers and support staff, during the COVD-19 closure of school and state offices facilities.

Unfortunately, there was debate about whether or not it was constitutional to continue to pay public employees if they weren’t working when offices were closed, and this opinion answers that question once and for all: it is constitutional to pay public employees during the COVID-19 shutdown. The Attorney General’s opinion makes it clear that if governments were to stop paying staff during the shutdown, the public would likely suffer from the loss of those workers when normal life resumes. Considering the existing shortage for qualified teachers and support staff – it’s especially important for local governments to do everything possible to retain these talented educators throughout the duration of the crisis. 

Teachers and paraprofessionals are classified as Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers. They are creating distance learning programs and lesson plans, whether that includes online learning or take-home packets. Educators are answering questions from parents and students via email, phone, and video chat throughout the day. Food service workers and custodians are ensuring that children don’t go hungry. Bus drivers are delivering food and take-home packets to those families without internet access. Teachers and parents are working together to ensure that children do not fall behind. Everyone is coming together to make life as normal as possible for Louisiana children during this unprecedented pandemic. Which is why it’s vital that all school employees continue to receive full pay and benefits throughout the shutdown. As at least one school administrator has pointed out, “they are still your students, and you are still their teacher.”

For further information and resources related to the ongoing school shutdown and COVID-19 outbreak, please visit our website.

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