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Louisiana voucher mom: ‘I still don’t know what I am going to do’

By   /   August 8, 2016  /   News  /   No Comments

Photo courtesy of Ashleigh Bovia

WAIT AND SEE: Ashleigh Bovia, a single mother from Baton Rouge, is frustrated that her 5-year-old daughter Ashanti is on a school wait list because of cuts in the Louisiana school voucher program.

The uniforms purchased after months of scraping together money one paycheck at a time. The comfort of knowing her two children would be dropped off and picked up at the same location for the school year. The ability to sleep soundly at the thought of her children attending a school she knows is safe and beneficial.

All gone with an email and a letter sent to her in July.

Ashleigh Bovia, a single mother from Baton Rogue who works full-time as an administrative assistant, is one of hundreds of parents to see her child put on a waiting list because of cuts to the Louisiana school voucher program.

“They start school August 8,” Bovia told Watchdog.org. “It’s August 3 and I still don’t know what I am going to do.”

After Bovia got news her 5-year-old daughter Ashanti could attend kindergarten at Greater Mount Olive Christian Academy, she said she breathed a sigh of relief. Ashanti has already been enrolled in day care at the school for two years. Bovia’s 2-year-old son Cash also attends day care there.

“It’s convenient for me,” Bovia said of the private school. “I’m a single mom. I need to be able to pick up and drop off my kids at one location. I do love the education she gets there. She’s grown to be a better person.”

Now, Bovia says, she is at a loss since receiving the news that Ashanti would be on the wait list. Her options are to remove her son from the school and send both of her children somewhere else, or find a way to pay $400 a month in tuition for Ashanti and $85 a month for Cash’s day care. She says that’s not a realistic option with the family’s finances.

“Once you’re approved for something, it was a big relief for me,” said Bovia. “I did not expect this to be jerked away from me. I am angry. I don’t know what I am going to do. It was almost like a slap in the face.”

Matt Frendewey, national communication director for the American Federation for Children, told Watchdog.org Gov. John Bel Edwards made promises to voters regarding the scholarship program that he failed to keep.

“Edwards lied to voters when he said he wouldn’t kick kids out of the Louisiana Scholarship Program and now his budget cuts has done just that,” said Frendewey. “Gov. Edwards chose to balance the budget by taking way school scholarships from low-income families who have children zoned to attend C, D and F schools — that’s shameful and morally unacceptable.”

Ann Duplessis, president of the Louisiana Federation for Children, told Watchdog.org that Edwards and state lawmakers still have an opportunity to address the situation by providing $2.5 million more in funding for the voucher program.

“This is a crisis for each of these 442 families that have been wait-listed,” said Duplessis. “They were fully expecting their scholarship awards to be honored. They now face having to pick a new school just days before the start of the new school year. Their choice of schools is not good at all. Parents are left to choose from the lowest performing schools. It’s why they applied for a scholarship, because they weren’t happy with their current school.”

Her voice breaking in frustration, Bovia repeated that she only wanted what was best for her children.

“I think it’s important for people to understand, had I been a mother who wasn’t working, who is sitting at home waiting for the government to take care of me, that would be one thing,” said Bovia. “That’s not what is happening. I work full-time Monday through Friday. I do what I have to do. I am a full-time parent and a full-time worker. It’s not just parents out here not working and expecting something in return. I want my children to have a good education. I can’t provide the best because things like this happen to me. I cannot provide the best if they do things like this. They give things and then they take it away.”