Louisiana procedures for disputes over anti-science materials in biology classes

WILL SENTELL of the [Baton Rouge] Advocate Capitol News Bureau reports that “Procedure [have now been] crafted for handling evolution-materials complaints“:

The department recommended that any complaints undergo an initial review by a three-member panel named by the agency, then go to the state board for a final decision.

But Dale Bayard, of Sulphur, chairman of the committee that tackled the issue, changed that and the committee went along.

Under Bayard’s change, two reviewers will be named by the department to review the science materials in question as well as one reviewer each named by the challenger, the school and the publisher.

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The five reviewers would file reports on whether the materials violate the rules. The department can also make a recommendation.

The state board would then make a final decision.

It is the state board, then, that will make the decision that will have to comply with the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

It’s pretty easy to find fault with these procedures (as does The Sensuous Curmudgeon), but I think overall this is a positive development: I had feared that disputes would be handled in ways that would result in decisions without the kind of record that provides a basis for legal challenges, and could result in decisions about one piece of “supplementary material” that would not set precedent for other materials. This procedure should produce the records and the arguments that will provide a basis for decisions with real precedential value.

Click here for previous posts on Louisiana’s law and the surrounding controversy.

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