Utah Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Over Common Core Adoption


A Utah judge has dismissed a lawsuit alleging that the Utah Board of Education did not take the proper procedural steps when switching to the Common Core State Standards.

Attorneys for the State School Board asked the judge to rule on the suit filed last year. Plaintiffs say the judge ruled only on procedural issues in this ruling, and they will focus on the “underlying issues” of the state’s adoption of Common Core and will present their argument to the court again, says Morgan Jacobsen of Deseret News.

The State School Board adopted the standards in 2010 and integrated them into the state’s educational system over the next few years. But the plaintiffs, six educators and parents, rejoined that there was not a prescribed time frame for public comment, according to a complaint filed in the 3rd District Court.

In a hearing last month, the plaintiffs stated that the standards were “administrative rule” and were required to be subject to the rule-making process, which is a different process from academic standards. They added that the standards were not legitimately placed in schools because the board did not follow the rule-making process.

If the plaintiffs follow the administrative revisions the judge identified, the plaintiffs have the right to file again. Connor Boyack, president of the Libertas Institute, which funded the suit, said the plaintiffs will petition the State School Board. They will appeal again if necessary.

The Common Core standards are an outline of what math and English students are expected to know at each grade level. The Obama administration proposed the adoption of the college- and career-ready standards and offered incentives to states that opted to use them, according to Benjamin Wood, writing for The Salt Lake Tribune.

State leaders, along with national education experts, created the standards, and all but a few states have voluntarily adopted the curriculum. Many believed that the adoption of Common Core threatens local education officials’ authority.

Boyack made a point of noting that the lawsuit did not concern the content or quality of Common Core, but rather the school board’s process used to adopt the standards. The process did not include public opinion input.

Crandall insists that parents and educators did have a chance to express their opinions concerning Common Core before the standards were adopted. The public can still give feedback to the state school board, he added.

The Associated Press reports that the procedural error that caused the dismissal of the case in Judge Paige Petersen’s court was that the plaintiffs did not communicate with the Utah State Board of Education before they sued. Petersen, however, did leave the door wide open for the case to be re-filed.

In a February article by Morgan Jacobsen of the Deseret News, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said:

“I’m concerned about the argument back and forth from good people on both sides of the issue, for Common Core, anti-Common Core. But the overarching issue there is the federal overreach,” Herbert said. “We ought to be concerned about it. And certainly, that’s part of this education conundrum that we’re a part of today.”

The governor asked for reports in the summer of 2014 to establish federal involvement in state education standards and the value of the standards in general. The reports found that the standards did not give local control of the state’s education system to the federal government, and a committee of local education experts found that the standards are more rigorous than the previous state standards. Best practices and solid research were the foundations of the curriculum, and the education requirements in the standards were deemed adequate to prepare students for higher education – if properly implemented.