By Victor Skinner
BATON ROUGE, La. – A Louisiana district court judge today ruled the state’s recently expanded private school voucher program unconstitutional.
District Court Judge Tim Kelley sided with Louisiana teachers unions that sued to stop “Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence,” an existing voucher program for low-income students that was expanded statewide by the legislature earlier this year.
Kelley ruled that the funding mechanism for the program violates the Louisiana Constitution, although the decision is expected to be appealed by the state, WAFB.com reports.
Meanwhile, the educational futures of nearly 5,000 students who currently receive vouchers to attend private schools remain in limbo. Sadly, those participating in the program are among the state’s most vulnerable students – low-income kids who previously attended Louisiana’s worst schools.
The program was only available to students in New Orleans until this year, when lawmakers expanded it statewide. In total, more than 10,000 students applied for the program, and about 5,000 students were enrolled this year based on school eligibility and available spaces, according to EdWeek.org.
Well over 100 private schools are participating in the program.
After three days of testimony this week, Kelley issued a two-part ruling on the lawsuit Friday afternoon.
Kelley said lawmakers didn’t violate the state constitution when they passed and implemented the revamped voucher program, but “declared the diversion of public funds to private entities was unconstitutional,” NOLA.com reports.