The North Carolina Association of Educators along with the North Carolina Justice Center announced today that they have filed a lawsuit on behalf of 25 plaintiffs challenging the recently enacted school voucher law.
The lawsuit, filed this morning in Wake County Superior Court, asserts that school vouchers, formally known as the Opportunity Scholarship program, are a clear violation of the of the state’s constitutional mandate that public funds be used exclusively for establishing and maintaining a uniform system of free public schools.
“Vouchers are bad public policy,”said plaintiff Mike Ward, former North Carolina Superintendent for Public Instruction. “They tear away millions of dollars that are badly needed in the public schools.”
Alice Hart, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit and a former teacher and principal, despaired when she first heard of the school voucher law. She explained that peeling off money from public schools, particularly when they are already underfunded, is absolutely wrong.
The General Assembly passed a budget bill last summer that included $10 million to fund the first year of the school voucher program, which is set to begin with the 2014-15 school year. Families whose students are currently in the public school system and meet certain income eligibility requirements will be able to receive up to $4,200 annually in taxpayer funds for use at private schools.
Applications for school vouchers will be accepted beginning February 1. One of the lead attorneys filing the suit, Burton Craige, said an injunction has been filed to stop the voucher program before it begins.