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Lawsuit Attacks Louisiana Governor Over Common-Core Testing

A group of Louisiana parents, teachers, and others sued Gov. Bobby Jindal Tuesday, claiming the governor is illegally blocking the state's testing contract, which state Superintendent John White and the state school board want to use to administer the tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

The July 22 lawsuit came one day after 17 state lawmakers filed their own suit related to the common core, challenging the state's adoption and implementation of the standards. 

The lawsuit against Jindal, however, focuses on the tests designed by the Partnership for Assessment for College and Careers, or PARCC. It says that the state's contract with the testing vendor Data Recognition Corporation "encompasses the acquisition of PARCC material and other material aligned to the Common Core State Standards, and the implementation of statewide assessments that test students against nationally recognized content standards." (That statement is on page 14 of the lawsuit.)

In a conference call with reporters, an attorney for the plaintiffs, Stephen Kupperman, said that his clients are seeking a preliminary injunction in an attempt to allow Louisiana schools to move forward with the standards and tests from the start of the 2014-15 school year. There is an Aug. 4 court hearing on that request for the injunction.

Kupperman said the governor and others "have effectively tried to kill the very standards and accountability that BESE [the state school board] have determined that the state needs" by blocking the testing contract.

Also in support of the lawsuit is the Black Alliance for Educational Options, a national organization that supports school choice and has worked in concert with Jindal on many issues. However, Kenneth Campbell, president of the national group, said on the conference call that his group's history with Jindal doesn't change his mind about who's correct with respect to common-core testing: "The governor is wrong on this issue."

The state school board and White aren't parties to this suit, but in a statement  stressed the urgent need to resolve the content of the state assessment, with schools in Louisiana starting in three weeks. Kupperman said the state board has consulted with his firm about filing its own lawsuit, but that the plaintiffs he represents are acting independently.

The state board has approved a move to hire outside counsel to sue Jindal over his suspension of the testing contract. But final approval for the board's quest to hire that outside counsel rests with Jindal himself, even if the outside attorneys work for free. Given that awkward scenario, this new suit could serve as a pinch-hitter if the state board's own push for a courtroom showdown with Jindal ultimately fails.

Jindal's office has consistently said that the state's contract with Data Recognition Corporation does not allow for the state to purchase the PARCC test. 

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