School Vouchers

Gavel, Court
SalFalko via Flickr, Creative Commons

The North Carolina Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday morning on a case challenging the constitutionality of the state’s private school voucher program.

The status of private school vouchers in North Carolina has been in flux ever since two lawsuits were filed in December 2013 that seek to end the vouchers, or Opportunity Scholarships. The North Carolina Association of Educators and the NC Justice Center filed a suit on behalf of 25 plaintiffs, while the NC School Boards Association filed a second lawsuit.

SalFalko / Flickr Creative Commons

Supporters of private school vouchers are trying to put the state’s program back on course. Attorneys are asking the North Carolina Supreme Court to overturn a recent ruling that halts the program.

A superior court judge ruled last week that using taxpayer dollars to help send children to private schools is unconstitutional.

But critics say the program gives low-income families school choice and that freezing the funds has put hundreds of families in limbo.

SalFalko / Flickr Creative Commons

 A Wake County Superior Court judge on Thursday ordered a stop to the use of taxpayer money to pay tuition at private or religious schools.

Judge Robert Hobgood ruled that the private school voucher program, also known as Opportunity Scholarships, is unconstitutional on several accounts. Advocates say they plan to appeal the decision.

Hobgood said the program pays for students to attend schools that are not obliged to meet state curriculum requirements, violating the state constitution's guarantee for students to have an opportunity to a sound, basic education.

SalFalko / Flickr Creative Commons

 After hearing lengthy arguments on Tuesday, Wake County Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood says he will make a ruling on the legality of the state's private school voucher program Thursday morning.

The program, also known as Opportunity Scholarships, uses taxpayer dollars to help low-income families send their children to private schools. The annual grants go up to $4,200 per student.

Parents, advocates and families gathered outside the legislative building on Tuesday to show their support for the state's private school voucher program.
Reema Khrais

  North Carolina legislative leaders, parents and advocates are looking to expand the state’s private school voucher program.

They say they want to lift the cap so that all low-income families that applied and qualified for the program can receive help.

The program gives families up to $4,200 in tuition money at private and religious schools. More than 5,000 families – most of them minorities - applied for the coming fall, but less than half will be randomly picked, according to leaders of Parents for Educational Freedom North Carolina.

Gavel, Court
SalFalko via Flickr, Creative Commons

 The North Carolina Supreme Court has overturned a lower court’s order to halt the state’s voucher program.

That means the program can go on – at least for now. It’s a program that gives low-income families scholarships of up to $4,200 to help send their children to private schools.

Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood issued an injunction earlier this year to stop the program, siding with critics who say it’s unconstitutional because the private school scholarships are funded with taxpayer dollars.

Judge Robert Hobgood granted opponents’ plea to freeze a law  that uses public funds to send low-income students to private schools.
Reema Khrais

A North Carolina judge is blocking a new law that uses taxpayer dollars to send low-income students to private or religious schools. 

Responding to opponents’ request to stop the voucher program, the judge ruled Friday that the yearly grants of up to $4200 violate the state constitution.

“The court finds that to maintain the status quo, that the state school fund must be used exclusively for establishing and maintaining a system of public schools, of course, in concert with the North Carolina Constitution,” said Judge Robert Hobgood.

Parent DeNille Amendola hopes to send her 11-year-old son to a private school next year with help from the state's new voucher program.
Reema Khrais

A new program that will help low-income families afford to send their children to private schools has started accepting applications, despite harsh criticisms and legal challenges that have plagued it.

Critics of the voucher program insist it will tear money away from public schools, while supporters have hailed it as a way to give low-income families school choice.

Parent DeNille Amendola doesn’t involve herself in the sticky details of the dispute.  All she cares about is how it could finally provide a “better education” for her children.  

Photo of student desks and chairs
Flickr via Chengyin Liu

With the support of two advocacy groups, 25 plaintiffs across the state filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging a private school voucher law passed earlier this year.

The N.C. Association of Educators and N.C. Justice Center are sponsoring the lawsuit, arguing that the vouchers are a broad assault on the state’s public schools as it funnels taxpayer money to private schools.

Scheduled to start next fall, the vouchers – also known as the Opportunity Scholarship Program - will provide $4,200 in taxpayer dollars for low-income families to send their children to private schools.

A student at McDougle Elementary School.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

  A North Carolina House Committee approved yesterday a bill that would provide funding to low income families wanting to go to private or religious schools Host Frank Stasio talks about that and other education-related news with WUNC Raleigh Bureau Chief and Education Reporter Dave Dewitt.