Louisiana Supreme Court rules Jindal’s voucher program unconstitutional

Updated
File Photo: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
File Photo: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
: Rogelio V. Solis/ AP Photo

The Louisiana Supreme Court put the final nail in the coffin on Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s school voucher program, ruling it unconstitutional Tuesday in a 6-1 vote. A state judge had previously ruled the program unconstitutional last November.

The private school tuition program, also known as Act 2, would have allocated millions of dollars to put students from low-income families in private schools. It would also “divert money from each student’s per-pupil allocation to cover the cost of private or parochial school tuition,” according to The Times-Picayune.

The Louisiana Supreme Court’s final ruling on the matter states that the money from each student’s per-pupil allocation, also called the minimum foundation program (MFP), is required to go to public schools: “The state funds approved through the unique MFP process cannot be diverted to nonpublic schools or other nonpublic course providers according to the clear, specific and unambiguous language of the constitution,” wrote Justice John Weimer.

Jindal defended the program last December by saying it provided choices to families whose children may otherwise be confined to failing public schools. However, critics of the program have noted that Act 2 costs families and the public school system more money than anticipated, and promotes unequal access to educational opportunities.

“Students with special needs cannot leave, because unlike public schools, privates and charters are not obligated to provide special education services,” Louisiana State University Professor David Kirshner told AlterNet last year. “So public schools will be left with the hardest to educate students, yet they will have the same per student budget to work with as is provided to private and charter schools.”

Jindal will likely appeal the ruling, saying in a statement following the Louisiana Supreme Court’s decision that, while he was “disappointed,” he was also “committed to making sure this program continues.”

Louisiana Supreme Court rules Jindal's voucher program unconstitutional

Updated