Court says Common Core co-founder's breach of contract suit should be aimed at Pearson Education parent company

By Takesha Thomas | Aug 6, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO – A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California recently ruled that the co-founder of the Common Core State Standards will have to go back to the drawing board on a breach of contract claim against education giant Pearson Education.

SAN FRANCISCO – A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California recently ruled that the co-founder of the Common Core State Standards will have to go back to the drawing board on a breach of contract claim against education giant Pearson Education. 

Judy Codding, co-founder of America's Choice, the company involved in the writing of the Common Core Standards, alleged in her suit that once a release agreement contract for consultation services ended with Pearson PLC, the company failed to promote her designed Pearson System of Courses program in California and New Mexico, resulting in a financial loss.

Court documents also claim that Pearson "modified the bonus provisions under the employment agreement, which were to survive after Dr. Codding’s employment ended." 

In her July 27 decision, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler ruled that Codding's claims should be aimed at Pearson PLC and not Pearson Education, a subsidiary of Pearson PLC. 

"Looking solely at Dr. Codding’s allegations against Pearson Education, the court finds that they are conclusory," court documents state.

America’s Choice is a nonprofit subsidiary of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE). America’s Choice personnel were involved in writing the new Common Core State Standards in English language arts and math that have been adopted by 42 states, including California, according to court documents. 

In 2010, Pearson PLC acquired America’s Choice for $80 million. In that same year, Codding became employed at Pearson PLC, the parent company for Pearson Education, as a managing director for the Common Core System of Course. 

Codding filed the suit against Pearson Education – not Pearson PLC – for breach of the release agreement that was made with the company. 

Codding alleges that after July 15, 2016, and through to the present, Pearson PLC and Pearson Education have done virtually nothing to sell the Pearson System of Courses (PSoC) in California or New Mexico.

According to court documents, "under the employment agreement, Dr. Codding was entitled to bonus amounts based on the amount of sales Pearson (PLC) made of the products for which for which Dr. Codding was responsible as managing director, referred to as the ‘Pearson System of Courses’ or ‘PSoC.'"

However, the court concluded that Codding's motion held no merit. "Pearson Education assumes for the purposes of its motion to dismiss that it was a party to the employment agreement," court documents said. "It argues, however, that Dr. Codding does not adequately plead that its alleged breach approximately caused her injury or that causation is at least reasonably certain. The court agrees."

Attorneys for Codding now have 21 days to file an amended complaint in order to, "continue to name only Pearson Education (and not Pearson PLC) as a defendant." 

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