- Associated Press - Friday, February 7, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The leader of a statewide teacher union said Friday that her organization has been excluded from the Jindal administration’s talks about tweaks to Louisiana’s teacher tenure law.

Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, said omitting her group from those discussions would make it more difficult for Gov. Bobby Jindal to reach a compromise with the education community.

“He is absolutely leaving out a strong force with the educators in the state and that’s going to be a problem,” she said.

After The Associated Press questioned the omission Friday, the LAE received a call from Jindal’s office to set up a meeting date.

Jindal has signaled he’s willing to make changes to his 2012 law that made it tougher for teachers to reach the job protection status and that reworked the process for appealing firing decisions.

The law has been challenged in two lawsuits, and more litigation has been promised.

Teachers and their union leaders call the changes a violation of their constitutional due process rights. Among the complaints is that a three-person appeal panel for firing decisions is weighted against the teacher, making it impossible to receive a fair hearing.

Jindal had only included one union, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, in preliminary talks about possible changes to the law until Friday, in advance of the legislative session that begins March 10.

“We have reached out to LAE and want to work with them. We are optimistic that we can come to an agreement that will address everyone’s concerns with regards to due process,” Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin said in a statement.

Both unions represent education workers, but they have memberships with strongholds in different parts of the state.

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