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State judge rules school voucher funding unconstitutional

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BATON ROUGE - A district court judge ruled today the funding formula in Gov. Bobby Jindal's school voucher program violates the state's constitution.

Judge Tim Kelley made the ruling after a week of arguments and testimony in Baton Rouge. He said it was against the constitution to send tax money intended for public schools instead to private schools.

"We need to adequately fund the institutions where the majority of our students learn," said Joyce Haynes, president of one teacher's union which brought the lawsuit. "And a majority of Louisiana's students learn in public school classrooms."

Teacher unions and school boards filed the lawsuit, wanting the program shut down. State education officials argued the system was set up in line with the constitution.

"Today's ruling is wrong headed and a travesty for parents across Louisiana who want nothing more than for their children to have an equal opportunity at receiving a great education," said Gov. Bobby Jindal in an emailed statement. "This ruling changes nothing for the students currently in the program."

An estimated 4,900 students received vouchers this year, which helped cover costs to switch from failing public school to either non-public schools, or public schools which received a higher performance rating.

"We strongly disagree with the ruling. We are optimistic this decision will be reversed on appeal," said Superintendent of Education John White in an emailed statement.


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