A national civil liberties law firm has today filed a motion to intervene in the recent lawsuits challenging the newly-expanded statewide Louisiana school voucher program, and will represent parents currently benefiting from the program in New Orleans, as well as the Alliance for School Choice and the Black Alliance for Educational Options.
The Alliance for School Choice—a leading national organization promoting, defending, and implementing school choice programs around the country—applauded the swift response by the Institute for Justice (IJ), the nationally renowned legal advocate for educational options with a proven track record for successfully defending choice programs nationwide.
The state’s teachers’ unions and school boards association filed three lawsuits against Act 2 of the 2012 Louisiana legislative session, all of which assert that the statewide Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence (SSEE) program is unconstitutionally funded under Louisiana’s Minimum Foundation Program, the state’s education funding mechanism.
“The self-interested organizations challenging Louisiana’s school choice program have it wrong,” said IJ attorney Bill Maurer, adding that “the constitutional requirements are met.”
Enacted in 2008 for New Orleans families with children in the state’s lowest-performing schools, the SSEE program has seen enrollment rise from 600 students in its first year to more than 1,800 participants during the 2011-2012 school year. The statewide program’s application period, which concluded on June 29, has already seen 5,000 applications from parents across the state, as well as renewed applications from nearly 2,000 families in the New Orleans program.
To qualify for the statewide program, children must have attended a public school rated “C,” “D,” or “F” by the state and come from a household not exceeding 250 percent of the federal poverty guideline ($57,625 for a family of four). As many as 380,000 children now meet the program’s eligibility requirements as a result of the recent expansion.
“The demand for this program has been demonstrated by the thousands of Louisiana families pleading for more educational options not only in New Orleans, but across the entire state,” said Kevin P. Chavous, senior advisor to the Alliance for School Choice. “We denounce the actions of the state’s teachers’ unions and school boards while standing firm in our support of this program, and we’re confident that IJ’s strong legal presence will prevail for those families seeking the quality educational options their children have long deserved.”