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Judge throws out lawsuit challenging Utah’s adoption of Common Core

First Published      Last Updated Nov 03 2015 08:45 pm

Education » Plaintiff says dismissal was due to “technicality,” will petition board before filing new suit.

A lawsuit accusing the Utah Board of Education of breaking the law by adopting the Common Core State Standards was dismissed in 3rd District Court on Tuesday.

Judge Paige Petersen issued a verbal ruling in a private teleconference, according to court documents. A written ruling is expected to be released in the coming weeks. The lawsuit, filed last year by the Libertas Institute, included six educators and parents as plaintiffs who claimed they were denied an opportunity to weigh in on the Common Core prior to the board's decision to adopt the standards.

Libertas Institute President Connor Boyack said the dismissal was due to "a minor technicality." The plaintiffs will petition the state school board before launching a new lawsuit, he said.




"We fully expect the board will deny our petition and then we will be back in court in a few months," he said. "It's a minor procedural hurdle."

The Common Core State Standards outline the minimum math and English skills a student is expected to master at each grade level.

A consortium of national education experts and state leaders created the standards, which have been voluntarily adopted by all but a few states.

The Obama administration incentivized the adoption of college- and career-ready standards. Most states chose the Common Core, leading many to view the standards as a federal program that diminished the power of local education managers.

"We stand behind the standards that we've adopted," Utah Board of Education Chairman David Crandall said. "We still maintain that we can change the standards in all or in part, really at any point, as long as we're following the process laid out in [Utah] statute."

Boyack said the lawsuit is not concerned with the content or quality of the Common Core, but instead the process the school board used in adopting the standards. Public input requirements were ignored, he said.

"Our plaintiffs want the opportunity to be heard rather than sitting by and watching the board ram through its decisions in hopes of obtaining federal grants and circumventing any semblance of local control," he said.

He said the plaintiffs will ask the board to halt implementation of the Common Core and take public feedback. The lawsuit will resume if that request is denied.

"We haven't even gotten to the underlying arguments that form the basis of the lawsuit," he said. "The only discussion until now has been superficial and technical."

Utah adopted the Common Core in 2010, and school districts began implementing the standards the following year.

The state has also completed two years of testing based on the Common Core. Crandall said it's unknown how implementation could be paused, as the plaintiffs request.

"I don't know what that would look like," he said.

Utah has used statewide academic standards for decades, with updates occurring at various points throughout the year.

The state board is working on an update to Utah's science standards, and a bill passed by lawmakers this year created a schedule for standards reviews that includes public input.

Not only did parents and educators have a chance to weigh in on the Common Core before its adoption, Crandall said, but the public also continues to have opportunities to provide feedback to the state school board.

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