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Vitter describes strong support for Common Core

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter says he "strongly" supports the Common Core education standards. The position puts him at odds with GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal, but could bolster support from the business community as the senator raises money for the 2015 governor's race.

In an interview taped for C-SPAN's 'Newsmakers,' Vitter called Common Core "very strong, significant, positive standards."

He added that the state must make sure teachers are properly prepared to use the standards and must retain local control of curriculum.

The comments come as Jindal is taking steps to remove the standards from Louisiana classrooms. That dispute with education leaders is headed to court.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Vitter criticized Jindal's approach to the standards, calling it "very disruptive" to schools.


Landrieu endorsed by state sheriffs association

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Louisiana Sheriffs' Association is backing U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu in the Senate race, choosing the Democratic incumbent over her closest Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy.

The association announced its endorsement Friday, after a vote was taken this week during the sheriffs' annual conference in Florida.

In a statement, Michael Ranatza, executive director of the association, said Landrieu's "senior status" and her continued support for the sheriffs throughout her career were deciding factors.

The sheriffs also endorsed Landrieu, who is running for a fourth term in the Nov. 4 election, during her 2002 and 2008 campaigns.

An association spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a question about how many sheriffs voted for Landrieu and how many voted to endorse Cassidy or Republican and tea party favorite Rob Maness.


Weekly unemployment insurance claims decrease

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - First-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending July 26 decreased from the previous week's total.

The state labor department figures released Friday show the initial claims decreased to 2,312 from the previous week's total of 2,543. For the comparable week a year earlier, there were 2,627.

The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, decreased to 2,535 from the previous week's total of 2,601.

Continued unemployment claims claimed for the week ending July 26 increased to 23,406 compared to 23,386 the previous week.

The four-week moving average for such claims increased to 23,014 from the previous week's average of 22,381.


Shreveport woman arrested for bank fraud

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - Caddo Parish sheriff's deputies say a 29-year-old Shreveport woman has been arrested for allegedly stealing more than $186,000 in a bank fraud scheme.

Sheriff Steve Prator says Kelley Rotharmel turned herself in Thursday night after detectives sought a warrant for her arrest.

Detective Frank Edmondson said Rotharmel is accused of writing four checks to a local credit union and then stopped payment on the checks causing the credit union to lose $186,449. Edmondson said Rotharmel floated money by moving it between three accounts and two banking institutions.

Rotharmel bond was set at $175,000.

It was unclear whether she has an attorney.


6 railroad cars derail in Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Baton Rouge Fire Department says six tank cars and boxcars in the middle of a Canadian National freight train have derailed.

Department spokesman Curt Monte (MONT'-ee) says nobody was hurt in the accident around 9:45 a.m. Friday.

Monte says some silica is leaking from a boxcar, but the leak is not dangerous.

He says some businesses in the area closed their offices. But Monte says the department has not called for an evacuation.

Monte said late Friday morning that crews were preparing to try to move the train and open the road.


Small overpayments found in La. voucher program

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Auditors looking at state payments to private schools through Louisiana's $35 million voucher program found about $52,000 in overpayments during the last school year.

Education Superintendent John White said Friday the money has been recouped from the schools, by backing the dollars out of the last round of tuition payments.

White praised the audit findings as a sign the program is humming along with no significant problems.

He says of the 126 schools in the program, 24 schools - or 19 percent - had issues raised by auditors, like a child who isn't eligible for the program. White says that rate of annual audit findings is lower than in public schools.

The statewide voucher program began in 2012. Nearly 6,800 students received taxpayer-financed private school tuition in the 2013-14 year.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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