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Lawsuit accuses Gov. Jindal of illegally meddling in Louisiana's use of Common Core standards

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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — Parents and teachers who support the Common Core education standards sued Gov. Bobby Jindal on Tuesday over his actions against the multi-state standards, accusing him of illegally meddling in education policy.

The lawsuit says the Republican governor and his Division of Administration "have sown chaos in the education system" and violated the Louisiana Constitution by issuing a series of executive orders aimed at undermining Common Core.

Jindal's actions don't comply with constitutional provisions that give education policy-setting authority to the Legislature and implementation authority to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, known as BESE, the lawsuit alleges.

"In an attempt to usurp the authority granted to the Legislature and BESE, Defendants have attempted to set their own education policy for students and schools in the State," the lawsuit says.

In a statement, the governor said the lawsuit had no merit.

Jindal, a one-time Common Core supporter and a potential presidential candidate in 2016, now opposes the standards as a federal intrusion into local education, echoing criticisms levied by tea party supporters around the country.

In June, Jindal suspended testing contracts that the state education department planned to use to buy testing material aligned with Common Core for the upcoming school year.

The governor said the department didn't follow state procurement law and needed to seek competitive bids for the work, but he also acknowledged he took the action to disrupt Louisiana's use of the Common Core standards.

Education Superintendent John White and BESE President Chas Roemer said Jindal had overstepped his legal authority. But attempts to broker a compromise have failed, and the board is considering whether to file its own lawsuit against the governor.

The dispute has stalled standardized testing plans for third-through eighth-grades, with school opening in fewer than three weeks.

Jindal's contract attorney, Jimmy Faircloth, said state law gives the governor's administration the authority to oversee contracts and the governor had not misused that oversight power.

"The fact that the governor exercises his authority in a way that is shaping policy shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. I think that is what he is expected to do," Faircloth said in a conference call.

The lawsuit was filed by seven parents, two teachers and a charter school management organization and was supported by the Black Alliance for Educational Options.

The Common Core standards, grade-by-grade benchmarks of what students should learn in English and math, have been adopted by more than 40 states. But while they were adopted by BESE with little fanfare in 2010, they have since become contentious nationwide.

Jindal and other Common Core critics have been unable to persuade BESE to change course. Lawmakers also upheld use of the standards earlier this year.

Tuesday's action was the second lawsuit filed over Common Core in two days.

On Monday, 17 state lawmakers who oppose the standards lodged their own legal challenge, saying BESE and the state education department didn't properly enact the standards and seeking their immediate suspension.

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