Here’s a look at some 2013 lawsuits involving school choice

Jan 2, 2014 by

WASHINGTON, D.C. – When a school choice law is passed, a school choice lawsuit follows – it’s all but inevitable.

I’ve counted at least a dozen school choice lawsuits over 11 programs in 2013. Here’s the roundup:

Arizona: Niehaus v. Huppenthal

Program at issue: Empowerment Scholarship Accounts

Type: Education Savings Accounts

Available to: Students with special needs, assigned to failing schools, in military families, in foster care or in adoptive families

Status: A state appeals court ruled in favor of education savings accounts, finding them distinct from a voucher program the state Supreme Court struck down in 2009. Interested parties are waiting to hear whether the state’s high court will hear the case.

 Oklahoma: Jenks v. Spry, Kimery v. Broken Arrow Public Schools, Oliver v. Barresi

Program at issue: Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities

Type: Voucher

Available to: Students with special needs

Status: In November 2012 the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the program — sort of. The school districts did not have standing to bring the case, it said. In October 2013, other plaintiffs — citizen taxpayers, almost all affiliated with the public school system — filed suit against the state. When they finish filing their paperwork, the state can file its brief and the judge can set a hearing date.

Alabama: Boyd v. Magee

Program at issue: Alabama Accountability Act

Type: Tax-credit scholarships, tax credits or rebates.

Available to: Tax-credit scholarships are available to low-income students; tax credits or rebates are available to families transferring children from a failing public school to a non-failing public school or an accredited private school.

Status: Two suits by the teachers union were thrown out; parties interested in the third suit are awaiting a hearing date.

Washington: League of Women Voters of Washington et al v. State

Program at issue: Public charter schools

Type: Public school choice

Available to: All Washington students

Status: In December, a Superior Court judge struck down part of the law, but most of it was upheld and charter applications are moving along as planned. The plaintiff coalition has said it will likely appeal, possibly bypassing the appeals court and heading straight to the state Supreme Court. The plaintiffs have until early January to file.

North Carolina: Hart v. North Carolina

Program at issue: Opportunity Scholarship Program

Type: Voucher

Available to: Low-income families

Status: Briefs have been filed, but a hearing date has not yet been set.

Indiana: Teresa Meredith, et al, v. Mitch Daniels, et al

Program at issue: Choice Scholarship Program

Type: Voucher

Available to: Low-income families

Status: Completed. In March, the state’s high court ruled unanimously the program does not violate the state’s constitution.

New Hampshire: Duncan v. State of New Hampshire

Program at issue: School Choice Scholarship Program

Type: Tax-credit scholarships

Available to: Low-income families, for private schools or homeschooling

Status: In June, a Superior Court struck down part of the law, ruling scholarship money could not go to religious schools, but it could go to secular private schools, out-of-district public schools or homeschooling. Supporters and opponents of school choice appealed the decision. The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case and will set a date after all the legal briefs are filed.

Douglas County, Colorado: Larue v. Colorado Board of Education

Program at issue: Choice Scholarship Pilot Program

Type: Voucher

Available to: Residents of Douglas County

Status: In February, a state appeals court upheld the program. The case was further appealed, and the state Supreme Court is being briefed.

Louisiana: Louisiana Federation of Teachers, et al, v. State of Louisiana, et al

Program at issue: Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program

Type: Voucher

Available to: Low-income families assigned to schools receiving C, D, or F letter grades or in a recovery school district.

Status: Completed. The state Supreme Court ruled in May the program could not be funded the way the law had been written, but did not rule on whether the law was constitutional if it were funded in a different way. In June, state lawmakers passed a budget that would fund the program through a different avenue.

Louisiana: Brumfield v. Dodd

Program at issue: Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program

Type: Voucher

Available to: Low-income families assigned to schools receiving C, D, or F letter grades or in a recovery school district.

Status: The U.S. Department of Justice alleged the program impeded the process of desegregation, which some Louisiana schools have been at for decades. A federal judge ruled that the federal department can oversee the program but cannot hamper it. Oversight details are slated to be worked out in January. Attorneys representing families have appealed.

Authored by Mary C. Tillotson – Watchdog.org

Choosing to sue: Here’s a look at some 2013 lawsuits involving school choice – EAGnews.org powered by Education Action Group Foundation, Inc..

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