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Judge Rules Vouchers Unconstitutional

VOUCHERS

Ending a three day court battle, a Louisiana judge ruled Friday that the state’s education voucher program violates the state constitution.

The decision is a victory for people who worried the voucher program would lead to an exodus of students and state funding from the public school system.

Supporters of the vouchers say they would allow kids to escape from poor performing schools and for parents to enroll children in the schools of their choice.  They plan to appeal the judge’s decision.

In a statement released this afternoon, Karen Carter Peterson, Louisiana Democratic Party Chair, called on Governor Bobby Jindal to drop the idea.

“We urge the Governor not to appeal this decision and to refrain from inflicting further needless harm on the public school system by pursuing this unconstitutional program,” Carter’s statement reads.

Scott Richard, the Executive Director of the Louisiana School Boards Association echoed Carter’s approval of the judge’s decision.

“On behalf of the Louisiana School Boards Association and 43 public school boards, we applaud the decision rendered today…” Richard said.

Supporters of the voucher program, like State Rep. Kevin Pearson say the ruling is a step backwards.  But Pearson says the language of the constitution may have left the judge with no alternative.

“It saddens me to think that the children of Louisiana whose parents chose to remove them from potentially failing schools might now be required to send them back to those institutions,” Pearson said.

State Superintendent John White expects the state to successfully appeal the decision.

“We strongly disagree with the ruling.  We are optimistic this decision will be reversed on appeal,” White said.

Governor Bobby Jindal might be the biggest supporter of the voucher program.

“Today’s ruling is wrong headed and a travesty for parents across Louisiana who want nothing more than for their children to have an equal opportunity at receiving a great education,” Jindal said.

The governor also says he expects the issue to ultimately be decided by the Louisiana State Supreme Court.

WGNO News Anchor Curt Sprang reporting

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