La. AG Rules Charter Schools Cannot Withdraw from State Plan

April 24, 2012 ( - The Louisiana attorney general's office has issued an opinion saying the Louisiana Constitution blocks charter schools from leaving the state teacher retirement system.

The decision could block a move by leaders of the Algiers Charter Schools Association to move to a 403(b).   

According to The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, in the opinion, Assistant Attorney General Jessica Thornhill wrote that statutes refer to charter schools setting and amending their benefits offerings, including retirement plan options, when they shape the charters that govern them as independently operated schools. However, she said that provision defers to a constitutional mandate that the Legislature must provide a retirement plan for teachers that creates a lasting contractual obligation between schools and employees.  

The opinion suggests the only time a charter school could make a different choice of retirement plans is during the initial approval of its charter, so once a school joins the state system it is committed to remaining enrolled, The Times-Picayune reports.  

Teachers in Louisiana’s Algiers Charter Schools Association protested the move by the group’s leadership to leave the state teacher retirement plan because of rising costs (see “Charter Schools Protest Removal from LA State Retirement Plan”).