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More on the Lawsuit That Could Oust La. Ed Supt. John White

June 8, 2017

On May 30, 2017, Louisiana teacher Ganey Arsement and several other Louisiana residents filed a lawsuit against Louisiana education superintendent John White and White’s “boss,” the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), for failing to follow the necessary procedures mandated by law for the reappointment of White to a second term.

  Ganey Arsement

In short, BESE was supposed to formally re-nominate White for a second term in time for the Louisiana Senate to hold a confirmation hearing by the end of the second regular legislative session following the election of the 2016-2019 BESE.

That second regular legislative session ended today, June 08, 2017. BESE failed to formally vote on White’s reappointment (and has not done so to date), thereby missing the deadline for a possible La. Senate confirmation.

Thus, the La. Senate is supposed to inform BESE that the position of Louisiana superintendent of education is officially vacated.

If the La. Senate sends BESE official notice of the vacancy, then Arsement et al.’s lawsuit becomes unnecessary. We’ll see.

Arsement sent me pictures of the 10-page lawsuit. (The only copy he has as of this writing is a paper copy.) I have included the 10 pictures, one of each lawsuit page, at the end of this post.

Arsement also graciously agreed to allow me to conduct an interview with him via email, which we did today (June 08, 2017) over the course of 2 1/2 hours.

The entire interview (2,033 words) can be found in this 4-page Word document.

Below is the first 672 words of our interview:

MS: Good afternoon, Ganey. Thank you for agreeing to participate in this online interview about your declaratory lawsuit against La BESE and La Supt John White.

To begin, could you briefly explain what led to the lawsuit and what you hope this lawsuit will accomplish?

GA:  The brief answer is that after several months of talking back and forth with the governor’s office and a handful of legislators, it became apparent that because of differing opinions, no one person was willing to take the first step. We hope that the petition will bring clarity to the statute and prompt the necessary action, beginning with BESE; however, BESE’s opportunity has passed. Now, it in the hands of the Senate President, Alario.

MS: Your suit stipulates that BESE had until today, the last day of the second legislative session following the election of the BESE board that began serving in January 2016, to formally recommend White senate confirmation of a reappointment. What can Alario do at this point?

GA: Per R.S. 24:14, it is the president’s duty to inform the appointing authority that the position is considered vacant because they failed to submit an appointee for confirmation. The statute also stipulates that if the former appointee refuses to vacate, the president must submit to the court to have the position vacated. The appointee has the right to challenge the vacancy; however, their dispute is with the appointee authority for failing to appoint, and once the dispute commences, anything they perform in that capacity is null and void.

MS: When I first read of your suit, I expected the actual paperwork to be only a few pages at most.  However, the actual suit is 10 pages long. Could you comment on the length?

GA: I, too, did not expect it to be as long as it is. Senator Milkovich and I discussed this prior to filing. I wanted a more concise petition that focused on the process; however, he felt that with all of the additional plaintiffs, the additional information was necessary for standing.

MS: Explain what you mean by the additional info being necessary “for standing.”

GA: Standing is a legal term that refers to the plaintiff’ stake in the filing, and generally is expressed in terms of connection, or harm from, the action in question. Most of the plaintiffs are parents with children affected by White’s tenure and/or various other stakeholders.

MS: What do you believe are the strongest points that support standing for this suit?

GA:  In terms of the additional plaintiffs, I believe their is sufficient evidence of damage done to students through the use of academic standards that aren’t age appropriate and the use of an assessment that requires the use of specific text. Aside from that I believe BESE’s failure to appoint a superintendent under the terms of the law is clear. The statute speaks for itself.

MS: I agree that the statute speaks for itself and that the public should not be required to prove harm when the state board of education has failed to carry out its duties. Given that this BESE has not had a single open meeting regarding formally appointing a superintendent, what do you believe BESE hoped to accomplish by such inactivity?

GA: It could be a number of reasons. The first being that they were thinking they could fly under the radar on a month to month until such time that a new BESE is elected with more favorable outcomes. The second reason has an “A or B” outcome. It at least appears that the delay was, in part, to allow time for credentials to be established before the appointment was addressed. This would remove the step of waiving requirements to be superintendent; however, if they had a 2/3 majority to reappoint White, they could also waive the requirements. The B part is that they delayed the process for credentials because White is planning an exit. Based on some of his comments, this morning, at the teacher leader summit, he may have plans.

To read the remainder of the interview, click this link.

To read the entire lawsuit, click on each of the pages below to enlarge each image:

Page 1:

Page 2:

Page 3:

Page 4:

Page 5:

Page 6:

Page 7:

Page 8:

Page 9:

Page 10:

____________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

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