SALT LAKE CITY — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit that claimed the Utah State Board of Education did not follow proper procedures in adopting the Common Core State Standards.
The decision came Tuesday after the attorneys for the State School Board asked the judge last month to make a ruling on the suit, which was filed last year. But plaintiffs in the case say the ruling only dealt with procedural tasks from that request, and they plan to bring what they say are the underlying issues with Utah's adoption of the Common Core back to court.
"Today's ruling was merely a minor procedural hurdle and nothing more," said Connor Boyack, president of the Libertas Institute, which funded the suit. "We fully expect to be back in court within a few months discussing the very same issues after petitioning the board administratively, as the judge instructed."
The Common Core standards identify minimum achievement benchmarks for students in math and English. The State School Board in 2010 adopted the standards, which were implemented in schools over the following years.
The six plaintiffs claim they weren't notified of the board's intent to adopt and implement the standards because "there was never a prescribed time period for public comment," states a complaint filed in 3rd District Court.
Since their adoption, the standards have been riddled with controversy, especially in light of implementation problems and new curriculum.
In last month's hearing, the plaintiffs claimed the standards qualified as administrative rule and they were subject to the rule-making process, which has a different adoption process from academic standards. They also claimed that the standards are unenforceable in schools because the board didn't comply with the rule-making process.
Attorneys for the board say the standards were not subject to the same adoption requirements as administrative rules since they are implemented on a local level, but the board still sought input from parents and teachers in developing and establishing the standards.
The plaintiffs' claims were dismissed without prejudice, and the plaintiffs could file a complaint again if they follow the administrative remedies identified by the judge. Boyack said the plaintiffs will file a petition with the State School Board, and if it's dismissed, they will appeal in court again.
"Today's ruling did not address the substantive arguments in the lawsuit and dealt only with the procedural hurdles. We'll get through those fairly quickly and be back in court," he said.
David Crandall, chairman of the State School Board, said he expects the board "will be pleased" with the judge's ruling. He said the board's standards adoption process has changed over the years to be more transparent and inclusive of public input.
"It's something that we hope continues to be open and improving," Crandall said. "We also have been very open to any changes to specific standards that anybody might have a problem with."
The board will consider the plaintiffs petition, he said, and "see if we can come to some agreement." But Crandall recognized the plaintiffs' right to seek legal remedies if an agreement can't be reached.
"I think the courts get involved whenever somebody decides that that's the best way to get the remedy that they would like to see, whether or not it's really the most beneficial, in this case, for the students," he said.