A third lawsuit, this one by the Louisiana School Boards Association, was filed Thursday in Baton Rouge state court attacking the constitutionality of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s voucher program.
The Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators, the state’s two largest teacher unions, filed nearly identical suits June 7 and June 22, respectively, in the 19th Judicial District Court.
The LSBA, LFT and LAE object to the use of the state’s public school financing formula to pay for tuition for some students to attend private and parochial schools. Their lawsuits attack the legality of Act 2 — the so-called voucher bill, and Senate Concurrent Resolution 99 — the Minimum Foundation Program resolution, of the recently concluded legislative session.
Act 2 would, among other things, expand eligibility for some students in low-performing public schools to obtain state-financed vouchers to attend private and parochial schools.
“The Constitution was approved by the voters of the state, and if the state wants to act contrary to its provisions, the Legislature should put before the voters the changes it wants to see,” LSBA attorney Robert Hammonds said. “Until those changes are approved by the voters of the state, however, the existing provisions apply and cannot be disregarded by the governor, the Legislature, or the school boards bringing this action.”
Hammonds said it is “significant” that the LSBA, LFT and LAE have similar concerns about Act 2 and SCR 99 and the impact of such legislation on the future of public education in the state.
“We will be working together to bring those concerns to the attention of the court in the clearest and most concise fashion,” he added.
Jindal has said it is “unacceptable” that Louisiana spends $1 billion a year on failing schools. He said Louisianians “demand and deserve better.’’
A preliminary hearing on the LSBA suit, which will be consolidated with the LFT and LAE suits, is expected July 10, Hammonds said. State District Judge Tim Kelley will preside over the hearing.