Jindal, educators reach agreement on teacher appeals

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office said Thursday it has reached agreement with teacher unions and others on a plan to revamp the appeals process for public school teachers who are dismissed.

The issue has sparked off and on talks for weeks among aides to Jindal and officials of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, Louisiana Association of Educators, Louisiana School Boards Association, Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana and superintendents.

It stems from a controversial, 2012 law called Act 1 pushed by Jindal that makes it harder for teachers to earn and retain a form of job employment called tenure.

The law set up a three-member panel to hear appeals.

Teacher union leaders have complained for years that the review team is stacked against them 2-1 because it includes a representative of the district’s superintendent, the school’s principal and the teacher’s designee.

Under the proposed change, appeals would be heard by a disclipinary hearing officer randomly named by the superintendent from a list approved by the school board.

The qualifications of hearing officers would be spelled out in state law.

The teacher or school board could also appeal the hearing officer’s ruling to a court.

The proposed changes would be added to House Bill 987 by state Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City.

“Act 1 was created to help ensure we have a great teacher in every classroom, and we’re pleased that we reached a solution that continues improving Louisiana schools for children and families across the state,” Jindal said in a prepared statement.

A district judge ruled in February that the current panel is unconstitutional after a challenge from a teacher in the Monroe City School District.

Both the LFT and LAE have attacked the 2012 law in court.