By Mary C. Tillotson | Watchdog.org
At least 600 Louisiana school children, possibly 1,300 more, will lose the opportunity to leave failing public schools for better ones, if a motion by the U.S. Department of Justice is successful.
Louisiana’s school voucher program, which gives private-school scholarships to low-income students attending schools graded C, D, or F, violates the state’s desegregation orders from the 1960s and 70s, the DOJ alleges.
More than 90 percent of voucher recipients are minorities, and more than 80 percent are assigned to D or F schools.
But the DOJ is trying to pull a fast one and hardly has a case, says Richard Komer, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, an Arlington, Va.-based libertarian public interest law firm.
Resurrecting ancient history
The lawsuit, Brumfield v. Dodd, dates from the 1970s, when a parent sued the state of Louisiana and six school districts over a program that had been around since the 1920s allowing public funds for textbooks and transportation to all Louisiana students, in public or private schools.
The desegregation orders prompted swarms of white families to pull their children from public schools and send them to all-white private schools. Some public schools lost several hundred white students in a single year, Komer said. The lawsuit blamed the book-and-bus program for encouraging “white flight” and thus impeding the desegregation process.
In 1975, the federal judge on the case ruled that no state assistance, including textbooks and transportation, could go to racially discriminatory private schools. The case saw some minor activity in 1977, but since then, nothing has happened, though the case was never closed.
Louisiana’s voucher program requires that participating private schools comply with the order and not discriminate against students based on race.
“There are schools in Louisiana that comply with this court order, and who from the time of the court order in 1975, have continued to receive textbooks and transportation for their private students, because they are in compliance with the court order,” Komer said. “The voucher program mandates that for a private school to receive any students’ vouchers from the state, they have to be in compliance with the case’s court order.”
The DOJ has not filed a new lawsuit, but has filed a motion in the old Brumfield case, claiming in at least 22 Louisiana parishes desegregation has yet to be achieved. The scholarship program, they claim, may hurt the process to further desegregate the schools.
Federal officials also claim the state must inspect the racial demographics before allowing students to use the vouchers. Students could leave public schools only if their leaving would shift the demographics away from segregation.
The 22 parishes are among the 34 still not complying with the desegregation orders – likely because districts still desegregating are eligible for federal money, said Clint Bolick, vice president of litigation at the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, which will represent some parents in the case.
“Even in the worst case scenario, the program would continue for a majority of the kids receiving scholarships,” Bolick said.
But it’s unrealistic to expect the state to complete all those inspections before the 2014-15 school year, and students in those parishes likely would not receive vouchers.
“For us, the bottom line is that is incredibly perverse. These kids are the intended beneficiaries of the desegregation decrees,” Bolick said.
Contact Mary C. Tillotson at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Arizona mom won’t give up on special needs kids, no matter what state says
- Reviving a 1970s lawsuit, DOJ would keep black students in failing schools
- Relocating sexually abusive teachers would be more difficult under Pennsylvania bill
- DOJ backpedals on Louisiana voucher lawsuit
- Court says charter schools won’t pay for Atlanta’s pension debts
- Biggest education impact from shutdown? Furloughed bureaucrats
- Appeals court upholds Arizona school choice program
- Indiana’s voucher program expands; diversity a factor in one family’s choice of school
- ‘Vouchers don’t do much good for students’ claim is false
- NYC mayor’s race could affect school choice
- Vermont public school goes independent, raises ire from state bureaucracy
- Arizona education savings accounts aren’t vouchers, study says
- Legal institute fights Alabama union’s attempt to repeal school tax credit
- Experts: School choice improves education in public schools
- SC school-choice program helps special needs kids, could expand
- DOJ wants Louisiana parents out of voucher lawsuit
- U.S. House passes bill to prevent ‘passing the trash’
- ‘Non-traditional’ journalists barred from viewing tax-funded test results early
- New center hopes to help charter schools help kids with special needs
- Charter school advocate to Philadelphia schools: Listen to parents
- $45 million not enough for Philadelphia teachers’ union
- Study: Rhode Islanders support school choice
- Study: Choice would help failing Chicago schools
- Scholarships could lift SC school dedicated to real-life, hands-on learning
- Parents make good school choices, study says
- Divisive charter school reform bill headed toward vote in PA
- In Louisiana school voucher lawsuit, DOJ changes gears
- Opponents sue Washington to overturn charter school law
- School choice proponents’ challenge? Educating parents
- Judge: Federal oversight may not hamper school voucher program
- PA lawmakers push to amend tight teacher furlough policies
- College ready: A Milwaukee inner-city school success story
- Proposed economic furloughs could slay sacred cow of seniority in Pennsylvania schools
- What is Massachusetts doing right?
- Goldwater to appeal Louisiana school voucher decision
- Want to end poverty? Educate the kids
- Breakdown in Philly schools not only about the money
- North Carolina scholarship program on firm legal footing, attorney argues
- Philadelphia school district threatens charters
- Belief in student ability key to success at Milwaukee charter school
- Three things to know about Philadelphia’s school budget: Debt, pensions and safety
- Choosing to sue: Here’s a look at some 2013 lawsuits involving school choice
- Philly charter schools outperform district counterparts
- California students sue state over ineffective teachers
- Study: Public supports parent choice in education
- Under new management, Philly Renaissance Schools show growth
- New Orleans tops school choice index
- AZ to consider four school-choice expansion bills
- Florida family ‘blessed’ to be apart of scholarship program
- PA lawmakers put education at top of agenda in election year
- Louisiana: Feds ‘more interested in skin color than … education’
- Charter school for Philadelphia foster children will not be renewed
- Governor ties proposed PA education funding to targeted grants
- WA’s first charter school serves children, families of ‘extreme poverty’
- Vermont attempts to take independence from independent schools
- Philly stumbles on way to simplifying enrollment system
- Plan for Philly schools keeps charters in check
- Missouri ballot initiative would increase funding for public, private schools
- New York charter school focuses on family, community
- NC school vouchers on hold
- WI voucher bill would help special needs students denied open enrollment
- Philadelphia schools will end another year in red
- PA universities expect state, students to pick up tab on rising tuition
- Two ESA bills get House support in AZ
- Thousands rally to support New York charter schools
- California’s defense begins in Vergara trial
- Accountability or overregulation? Charter supporters split over Minnesota bill
- Bill would make Florida students eligible for scholarships
- PA considers empowering universities to authorize charter schools
- To test or not to test? Florida school choice proponents split
- Philly school district broke, but the pay is good
- Philadelphia charter school sues public school district
- Colorado Supreme Court to hear school voucher case
- Vermont to reconsider education funding formula
- Arizona Supreme Court allows school choice program to stand
- Massachusetts charter school bill revived
- Quality schools matter more than racial integration, black leaders say
- FL again takes up school-choice bill
- Choice Media’s videocast tackles host of education issues
- Ending teacher seniority rules beyond Philly requires legislative action
- New website helps Detroit parents choose schools
- Philly schools caught on funding merry-go-round
- Louisiana bill would coordinate school choice programs
- New D.C. charter school lottery eases but doesn’t eliminate waiting lists
- Federal bill attempts to help replicate high-quality state charter schools
- Philadelphia schools awaiting taxes from city, state
- ACLU alleges discrimination in 138 NJ districts
- MN anti-bullying bill could have unintended consequences
- Mississippi’s special needs bill to return next year
- Illinois considers three-year ban on virtual charter schools
- Violent Philly high school source of worry
- Auditors examining troubled Philadelphia school district
- Civil liberties organization sues to overturn anti-bullying law
- Legal conflict over teacher seniority in Philly heats up
- Academics, culture help mom choose private school