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The Advocate editorial board speaks with Gov. John Bel Edwards in his 4th floor office during opening day at the Louisiana legislature Monday April 10, 2017, in Baton Rouge, La.

ADVOCATE file PHOTO BY BILL FEIG < p>

In a renewal of tensions, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday his office is reviewing state Superintendent of Education John White's job status.

Edwards, in his statewide radio show, said White should have faced state Senate confirmation during the 2017 regular legislative session, which did not happen.

"He needed to be confirmed to continue to serve," the governor said. "We are looking at that situation."

Edwards, an attorney, said the issue may need to be litigated but that he was not prepared to make an announcement.

White, in a separate appearance Wednesday on the Jim Engster radio show, downplayed the comments.

"I really don't pay a lot of attention to that stuff," White said, adding later that Louisiana's key public education problem is politics.

"We have got to get politics out of the classroom," he said.

Earlier this month a Baton Rouge judge said Edwards is one of the few officials who can initiate steps on whether White should face a second confirmation hearing in the state Senate, or have his office vacated.

The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by 14 state residents who questioned White's ability to hold office. They said that, since a new term of the state's top school board began in 2016, the superintendent's name should have been sent to the state Senate for confirmation by now or the office is vacant.

The judge said the residents did not have legal standing to challenge White's job status, but that Edwards and a few other officials do.

White was named superintendent in 2012 by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and was confirmed by the Senate. Since then a new board has been elected but no contract extension has been approved.

Backers of the superintendent are short of the eight votes needed to renew his contract and opponents are even more short of the eight votes needed to fire him.

White, whose salary is $275,000 per year, is working on a month-to-month contract and oversees about 700,000 public school students statewide.

"I am going to continue to work for the children of Louisiana until that board tells me to stop," White said, a reference to BESE.

He also cited gains in fourth-grade math, high school graduation rates and the number of students attending college in saying how his tenure should be viewed.

Edwards, a Democrat, and White, who was hired under former GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal, have been at odds for years.

During his 2015 run for governor, Edwards repeatedly said he would replace the superintendent. However, BESE makes that call and Edwards has been unable to round up enough votes to fulfill his pledge.

BESE has 11 members, including three named by the governor.

White is an advocate of major public school changes, including vouchers, charter schools and other steps.

The governor has long been aligned with teacher unions and other traditional public school groups who have criticized vouchers, charter schools, teacher evaluations and White's plan for school changes under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs were represented by state Sen. John Milkovich, D-Shreveport, and a critic of White and the White-backed Common Core academic standards.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.