Rules for voucher schools will be in place well before the Aug. 1 deadline, state Superintendent of Education John White said Monday.
“There is still a lot of discussions to be had, with educators in particular,” White told the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The rules will apply to 124 private and parochial schools, and one public school, that have offered to accept voucher students under Louisiana’s expanded push for the assistance.
Under the plan, low- and middle-income students who attend schools rated C, D and F by the state can apply for vouchers for the 2012-13 school year.
The 125 schools have offered slots for up to 5,100 students.
However, exactly what rules the schools have to follow are largely up to White, under the state law that authorized the expanded program of vouchers.
In general, officials are looking for a way to ensure that voucher students are attending schools where progress is being made.
White said earlier that the rules will try to strike a balance between the need for standards while respecting the autonomy of private and parochial schools.
Some lawmakers contend that voucher students should face some of the same rules as those in traditional public schools, including standardized tests that they have to pass for promotion and letter grades that measure school performance.
In addition, controversies have sprung up around at least three schools that hope to enroll voucher students, including whether they can handle a surge of new students.
White said he does not expect the regulations to cause any big drop in the number of schools taking part in the program.
He said the guidelines could cause changes in school enrollment compared to what school officials say they can handle.
Students have until the end of the month to apply for the vouchers.
“We hope to have the regulations done well before Aug. 1,” White said, declining to be more specific.
Whether BESE would approve the policies also is unclear.
The 11-member board does not have a regularly scheduled meeting until July, which means any voucher school rules review would require a special gathering.
The Louisiana Federation of Teachers, one of the state’s two largest teacher unions, has filed a lawsuit aimed at overturning the voucher law, and delaying implementation while the lawsuit is heard.
The lawsuit contends that the voucher law, which legislators approved in April, contained too many topics in one bill.
Backers say vouchers give families an option to escape failing public schools.