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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Louisiana School Voucher Program Held Unconstitutional

The Louisiana Supreme Court recently struck down the state’s school voucher program, finding it violated the state constitution because the law (1) diverted public school funds for private education; and (2) violated certain state constitutional procedural requirements for enacting legislation.  Louisiana Federation of Teachers v. State of Louisiana.
The Louisiana school voucher program allowed the diversion of funds specifically allocated for public education to private schools for students who were awarded a scholarship under the voucher program. The law was challenged by a number of teachers' unions and parents and students in the public school system. 
The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that the voucher program violated a provision in the state constitution that requires the state legislature to "fully fund the current cost to the state" of "a minimum foundation program of education in all public elementary and secondary schools," and the "funds appropriated shall be equitably allocated to parish and city school systems." According to the court, because the state constitution requires educational funds to be allocated only to public schools, the funds could not be diverted to private schools.
The court also ruled that the voucher program law violated two procedural requirements of the constitution:  (1) it was introduced in both houses after the twenty-third calendar day of the regular session and (2)  the law did not obtain the required 2/3 vote of the house.
Thanks to the Constitutional Law Prof Blog for reporting on this new case.


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