Appeals Court Rules that Louisiana Department of Education Violates Louisiana Records Act

Appeals Court Rules that Louisiana Department of Education Violates Louisiana Records Act

Photograph Source The Advocate
By Raynard Sanders, Ed.D. | Originally Published at EmpathyEducates. September 20, 2014

On Friday September 19, 2014 Louisiana’s First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled “in favor” of Research on Reforms (ROR) citing that the Louisiana Department of Education was wrong in not releasing the public documents as required by Louisiana Public Records Act

ROR is a New Orleans based research group whose mission is to contribute to the improvement of the New Orleans Public Schools by conducting research on reforms, and publishing research findings, so the successful reforms can be replicated, and failing practices can be eliminated (researchonreforms.org).

Over the years and following Hurricane Katrina ROR, researchers and other citizens were able to get student data and de-identified student data upon request from the Louisiana Department of Education. Research on Reforms produced some brief annual reports that didn’t agree with the “miracle” narrative state education officials and charter school proponents have been spreading around the country. In 2011, ROR data was cited in the Washington Post. A year earlierNewsweek magazine that dispelled the myth of “unprecedented student achievement”. Afterwards the Louisiana Department of Education begin to refused practically all student data requests and begin removing all historical student data from their web site. As researchers made data requests, state education officials stalled their requests with unnecessary forms and questions about the requester’s use of the data. Eventually state officials denied the requests and told ROR and other researchers that student data was private information.

Related Read The Great Charter Tryout.

After two to three years of going back and forth with state education officials ROR decided to file suit. In its lawsuit, ROR asserted violation of Louisiana’s Public Records Act.

Dr. Barbara Ferguson of Research on Reforms

[ROR] stated in an article that one of the greatest safeguards of the public good is Louisiana’s Public Records Act. Under this law, state agencies cannot hide information. However, when an agency does not want to disclose the requested information, it generally asserts a challenge as to whether or not the requested information fits the definition of a “public record”. ROR was requesting records that had already been produced by the Louisiana Department of Education and released to the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University and Knowledge is Power Program a national charter operator. It should be noted that the Center for Research on Education Outcomes had a research contract with the Louisiana State Department of Education.

In a lower court a judge ruled against ROR, they appealed their lawsuit to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, the case was heard on August 19, 2014.

On September 20, 2014 the First Circuit rendered a decision and ruled “in favor” of ROR citing that the Louisiana Department of Education was wrong in not releasing the public documents has required by the Louisiana Public Records Act.

Hopefully those records will be released soon and the public will know how the students in Louisiana are preforming academically.

2016-11-29T17:37:36-05:00

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