LIVINGSTON — The Livingston Parish School Board voted unanimously to join more than two dozen other Louisiana school systems in a legal challenge to a state law granting students from low-performing public schools state-subsidized vouchers to attend non-public schools.
The board approved a resolution Thursday night that authorizes the board to enter into a lawsuit that questions the legality of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education revision package.
The resolution states, among other things, that passage of Act 2 during the state Legislature’s 2012 session violates the state constitution on multiple grounds.
Livingston Parish Superintendent of Schools Bill Spear said that 124 of the schools that have agreed to accept students through the voucher program are religiously affiliated institutions.
“The Livingston Parish School Board has the responsibility to defend the parish school system against legislation that is harmful to our ability to educate our parish’s children,” Spear said. “This board has the responsibility to assure that no one is exempt from provisions in the U.S. Constitution … not government officials no matter how high up they are or anyone else.”
Jindal drew sharp criticism from a number of board members such as Keith Martin, who said of the governor, “the state is throwing money away that should be spent on public education. Bobby Jindal is the most politically motivated governor this state has ever had. It’s a bad situation.”
Board member Buddy Mincey Jr. said Jindal “has turned his back on Livingston Parish more than once and this is just one more instance of his not caring for this parish. We have turned every rock we can turn searching for the funds we need to keep our schools running. We need more money, not less and this latest action by the governor and the Legislature is going to hurt us.”
The board approved bearing its share of the cost of the litigation, which Mincey said should be about $10,000.
Spear said that as of Thursday, 19 school districts had already joined in the lawsuit and that seven more districts were likely to approve similar measures before week’s end. He said that possibly 33 school systems ultimately would join in the suit.
The board authorized Hammonds & Sills law firm of Baton Rouge to serve as the law firm of record that would file the suit.
Other items coming before the board included:
PERSONNEL ACTIONS: The board approved the following promotions: Jeanne Ebey, substitute supervisor and director of special education; Dana Nolan, substitute high school supervisor of instruction; Peggy Fontenot, principal of Maurepas School; JoAn Cook, substitute principal at Northside Elementary School; and Carlos Williams, substitute principal at Southside Junior High School.
REAPPORTIONMENT PLAN: Board attorney Tom Jones reported that a public hearing on the reapportionment plan under consideration by the board will be held at 7 p.m. July 12, at the School Board Office in Livingston.