United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
L. HAYES, MAG. JUDGE.
A. DOUGHTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Madison-Tallulah Education Center a/k/a Tallulah Charter
School (“TCS”) filed this lawsuit against
Defendants Louisiana Board of Elementary & Secondary
Education (“BESE”), Louisiana Department of
Education (“LDE”), and John C. White
(“White”), Superintendent of the LDE (referred to
collectively as “Defendants”), for purported
violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law.
before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. [Doc.
13]. For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion is
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
a Louisiana nonprofit corporation domiciled in Madison
Parish, Louisiana. Under La. Rev. Stat. § 17:3983, BESE
approved TCS to operate a Type 2 public charter school,
beginning in July 2013. BESE and TCS entered into a written
contract (“the Charter Contract”) pertaining to
TCS's operation of the school.
2013, TCS has continuously operated the Type 2 charter school
in Madison Parish under the initial term of the Charter
Contract. Most of the students attending TCS reside in
La. Rev. Stat. 17:3981, BESE oversees the operation of Type 2
charter schools for the State of Louisiana. Pursuant to La.
Rev. Stat. § 17:3981(5), BESE has rule-making authority
to determine policy and direction to LDE with regard to the
schools' BESE charters. Under La. Rev. Stat. §
17:3981(3), BESE must adopt rules for the efficient,
effective, and fair undertaking of its duties.
adopted rules contained in the Administrative Code. Pursuant
to La. Admin. Code § 28:1502A, the Superintendent of LDE
makes a recommendation to BESE whether a charter shall be
renewed after completion of its initial term of operation.
about May 5, 2017, the LDE allegedly received a complaint
about potential testing irregularity at TCS during the
2016-17 school year. The LDE conducted an investigation,
which included multiple site visits and interviews in 2017.
TCS contends that the LDE questioned students without
providing advanced parental/guardian notice and without first
securing parental/guardian authorization. The LDE also sought
and gathered records and other information maintained at TCS.
contends that the LDE did not seek or permit use of the
Complaint Procedures under La. Admin. Code 28:3301, to
address the May 5, 2017 complaint. TCS further contends that
the LDE and the Superintendent did not use the due process
components specified in the Charter School Performance
Compact, which is referred to in BESE Bulletin 126, when
conducting the investigation. In particular, the LDE did not
issue to TCS a Notice of Concern, Notice of Breach, or like
or similar notices.
May 17, 2017 notice, the LDE advised parents and guardians of
TCS students that their children had been questioned by LDE
staff regarding LEAP testing and further advised that the
LDE's investigatory visit would not impact the children
or their assessment results.
result of its investigation, the LDE decided to void 106 LEAP
tests administered to students in the 2016-17 school year.
The LDE advised TCS of its decision in an October 25, 2017
November 24, 2017, TCS provided a written response to the
LDE's factual findings. Nevertheless, the LDE decided to
void 106 LEAP tests administered in 2016-2017.
voiding of the LEAP test scores reduced TCS' School
Performance Score (“SPS”) for the 2016-2017
school year and dropped its Assessment Index Score and
student scores in math proficiency. Prior to the voiding of
the tests, TCS had a SPS letter grade of “C” for
the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years. For the 2016-2017
school year, the LDE assigned an SPS of “F” to
BESE regulations, a Type 2 charter school that has a failing
SPS (“F” grade) has no right of renewal of its
initial charter contract. According to TCS, Type 2 charter
schools with SPS grades higher than F have statutory,
regulatory, and contract rights to a recommendation from the
State Superintendent for charter renewal and to an
affirmative vote by the BESE to authorize renewal of their
charters beyond their initial term.
contends that the LDE was “arbitrary, did not consider
alternative measures available for measuring student
performance for the 106 voided examination results, used
criteria not authorized when evaluating and measuring school
quality for TCS' SPS scores, and did not take into
account the impact of such decision on approximately 430
students served by TCS and the educational alternatives
remaining for said students in the event of TCS' closure
based on failing SPS scores.” [Doc. No. 1, § 36].
further contends that the LDE violated LA. ADMIN. CODE
28:1101 B, C and G and TCS' statutory and contract rights
under its Charter Contract, as well as the Louisiana Charter
School Performance Compact, by voiding the 106 LEAP test
results and calculating TCS's SPS rating “without
an actual measure of student performance.” [Doc. No. 1,
December 11, 2017, BESE's School Innovation and
Turnaround Committee received the LDE's recommendation of
non-renewal, allegedly based on TCS'SPS score of
“F.” The Committee acted in reliance on the
LDE's SPS 2016-2017 report on TCS, and without notice to
or input from TCS, voted to accept the recommendation of
December 12, 2017, BESE, acting on the Committee's
recommendation, voted to accept the LDE's recommendation
of non-renewal without notice to or input from TCS. TCS
contends that BESE's decision of non-renewal was not
based on a specific recommendation communicated from White to
BESE, as purportedly required by state law.
January 4, 2018 letter, BESE notified TCS, through the
president of the board of Directors, of the non-renewal
decision. As a result, TCS will close at the end of the
2017-18 school year and its approximately 430 students will
need to attend another school. The other public schools in
Madison Parish are also rated as failing.
contends that it did not receive the opportunity to create
and implement a corrective action plan, as permitted under
La. Admin. Code 28:1503B(7).
January 11, 2018, counsel for TCS filed a request for
reopening, rehearing, and reconsideration with BESE and the
LDE. BESE's Executive Director responded, summarizing
BESE's prior actions and providing 139 pages of assorted
records. The letter ...