Education website shut down

The website for the state Department of Education was shut down for part of Monday because of the state’s refusal to make payments, Superintendent of Education John White said.

But the office in the Jindal administration that pays the bills said the website closing was unintentional and not part of a heated dispute between White and the governor over Common Core tests.

“This is a technical glitch,” said Meghan Parrish, director of communications for the Division of Administration. “This is not purposeful.”

Parrish said the state made a $280 payment on Monday morning to resolve the issue.

In a prepared statement, the state Department of Education said, “We are grateful the bill has been paid.”

How long the website was down is unclear, and access to it on Monday was uneven.

The site includes information about exams, accountability, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, upcoming education events, news releases and teacher assistance.

White is embroiled with the Jindal administration in a dispute over testing contracts, and the incident occurred just hours before a key court hearing on the issue.

The governor opposes Common Core and wants new tests.

White and a majority of BESE back the new standards and the assessments that go with them.

White has said previously that the suspension of state test contracts have had and threaten to have more impact than Jindal administration officials thought.

In July, aides to the governor told White that his agency would be subject to more stringent contract rules, one day after Louisiana’s top school board voted to hire special legal counsel to challenge Jindal’s bid to derail Common Core tests.

Under the new guidelines, the state Department of Education has to win approval from state finance officials for any contracts exceeding $2,000.

The previous cap was $20,000.

White was Jindal’s choice for state superintendent, but the two have had a policy falling out over Common Core.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell. For more coverage of Louisiana government and politics, follow our Politics blog at blogs.theadvocate .com/politicsblog.