A federal judge in New Orleans has postponed until Nov. 26 a hearing on whether the funding provisions of the state’s voucher program should be halted in Tangipahoa Parish, after state education officials said they needed more time to prepare.
State Superintendent of Education John White, the Louisiana Department of Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education had been ordered to appear in U.S. District Court in New Orleans on Tuesday for a hearing in the Tangipahoa Parish School Board’s 47-year-old desegregation case.
The School Board asserted in a Sept. 24 motion that the state’s diversion of Minimum Foundation Program funds from the school district to voucher programs prevents the district from building new schools, improving existing facilities and maintaining magnet programs, as required under court orders in the desegregation case.
The board asked the court to issue an injunction against those provisions of state law and to restore any previously diverted funding if a voucher student re-enrolls in the district’s schools.
But White and the Department of Education argued, in a motion filed Thursday, that they needed more time “to prepare for what amounts to a trial on an injunction of an extremely complex matter.”
In addition, the School Board is a party to the Louisiana School Boards Association’s suit in 19th Judicial District Court challenging the same laws, White argued in the motion.
The outcome of that case, which is set for trial Nov. 28, may make the School Board’s motion for an injunction in the desegregation case moot, White argued.
Following a status conference Friday, the court rescheduled Tuesday’s hearing for Nov. 26 and ordered the parties to submit written arguments by Nov. 13, outlining to what extent the provisions of Act 2 may be unconstitutional or in conflict with the court’s desegregation orders; to what extent a delay in the case may cause irreparable harm; and potential issues under the 11th Amendment, which deals with sovereign immunity.
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