- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - An education overhaul bill pushed through the Legislature in 2012 is constitutional, Louisiana’s Supreme Court said Wednesday. The decision reverses a lower court’s finding that the legislation crammed too many diverse elements into a single bill.

It was a victory for Gov. Bobby Jindal, who had strongly backed the legislation affecting teacher tenure, salaries and the powers of local school boards and superintendents.

Some of the tenure provisions were reworked in 2014. But Wednesday’s decision still affects teachers dismissed under the law between 2012 and 2014. And it upholds parts of the law reducing the importance of teachers’ seniority when school boards lay off employees; provisions giving the state authority to review local superintendents’ contracts with their respective school boards; and an increase in superintendents’ powers to hire and fire.

“This is good news,” Jindal said in an emailed statement. “We appreciate the court’s unanimous ruling. Act 1 was created to help ensure we have a great teacher in every classroom, and we’re pleased that it will continue improving Louisiana schools for children and families across our state.”

State Education Superintendent John White issued a statement saying schools benefit from the act. “Act 1 gives principals and superintendents freedom from politics to do the right thing for children,” he said.

The Louisiana Federation of Teachers had challenged the law and had won a round in January when state District Judge Michael Caldwell in Baton Rouge said the 2012 law violates the constitutional prohibition on bills with multiple elements.

But the high court disagreed, saying in its ruling that “the act is elementary and secondary education, and the object of the act is improving elementary and secondary education through tenure reform and performance standards based on effectiveness. After examining the numerous provisions of Act 1, we determine that they all have a natural connection and are incidental and germane to that one object.”

The LFT expressed disappointment.

“Since we have not yet had a chance to study the Supreme Court ruling, we cannot comment on its particulars,” the group said in a statement. “We have always maintained, however, that the ultimate solution to the problems caused by Act 1 of 2012 will be legislative and not judicial.”

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