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“Students Come First” Law Goes Before Judge Hansen

(AP) The debate over the education reform plan for Idaho continues, moving now into the courtroom. A district judge is considering whether one of the “Students Come First” laws might be unconstitutional.  The battle is over the law that directly affects teacher collective bargaining rights and labor agreement terms. Collective bargaining contracts were already terminated in June.  Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which include the Idaho Education Association (IEA), teachers, and three district education associations, say the law is unconstitutional claiming it is written too broadly.  The defense, which includes the state of Idaho, Governor Butch Otter and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, says that type of incentive isn’t considered compensation, and isn’t forever guaranteed.  Judge Timothy Hansen said he would prepare a written opinion in this case which is expected in the next 30 days.  If the judge rules in favor of the IEA, their attorney believes the state would acknowledge the ruling and repeal the law without a need for further legal action. That would mean things would revert back to how they were, and then likely be taken up again next legislative session.  If Hansen sides with the defense then the law stands as is, though the law is set for a referendum vote on the 2012 ballot. The burden of proof rests on the plaintiff.

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