Parents Ask State Court to End Voucher Program – Tennessee Education Report

Parents in Nashville and Memphis are petitioning a state court to end the state’s new coupon program in its infancy. The program began this year after a court overturned an injunction preventing it from going into effect.

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A small number of students qualified this year as the program was given the green light just weeks before school started. However, the lifting of the restraining order hasn’t stopped the parents’ ongoing lawsuit.

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Here’s more from public funding for public schools:

Today, a Davidson County Chancery Court jury heard arguments in two class-action cases challenging the constitutionality of Tennessee’s private school voucher law, which the state began implementing in August.

The plaintiffs — parents and community members from Davidson and Shelby County — argued that Tennessee’s voucher program illegally diverts taxpayer money allocated to public schools in those counties to private schools. They alleged that the program violates the Tennessee Constitution and state laws, exacerbates underfunding in public schools, and treats Davidson and Shelby County students and taxpayers differently from their peers across the state.

“My daughter’s public school is wonderful. But it’s already struggling with funding for textbooks, technology, and enough teachers to keep class sizes small,” he said Plaintiff Roxanne McEwen, whose child is a student at Metro Nashville Public Schools. “It’s wrong to take money away from our public schools – which serve every child who walks through their doors – when they are already underfunded.”

Private schools participating in the taxpayer-funded voucher program are not required to meet the academic, accountability, and governance standards that apply to public schools. Unlike public schools, private schools can discriminate against students based on religion, LGBTQ status, and other characteristics, as well as deny services such as special education for students with disabilities.
“The state and the other defendants want the court to throw out this case before the plaintiffs have had a chance to fully assert their claims,” ​​he said Chris Wood, partner at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd. “Our clients have alleged multiple violations of the Constitution and state law that the court has not yet heard or ruled.”

Public school parents and community members in Shelby and Davidson Counties submitted McEwen versus Lee in 2020. They are represented by the ACLU of Tennessee, Education Law Center, Southern Poverty Law Center and Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP. That McEwen Case was consolidated with Metro Government vs. Tennessee Department of Educationanother case that challenges the Voucher Act.

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