North Carolina court releases money in halted school voucher program

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 19, 2014 3:29 PM

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. (Reuters) - About 1,900 North Carolina students will be allowed to receive public money to attend private schools despite a finding by a judge that the scholarship program is unconstitutional, the state's Court of Appeals ruled on Friday.

The order applies only to students who were approved for taxpayer-funded scholarships of up to $4,200 before a lower trial court blocked North Carolina's new school voucher program last month.

No additional funds for the Opportunity Scholarship program will be released while the legal challenge plays out, the appellate court said.

The program, approved in 2013 by the state's Republican-controlled legislature, helps cover private school tuition for children from low-income and working-class families.

“Today's historic decision allows nearly 2,000 students already enrolled in the Opportunity Scholarship to continue to attend their new schools with confidence and security for this school year," said Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, which supports the voucher program.

In his Aug. 21 order halting the program and disbursement of funds, Judge Robert Hobgood said it diverted money that under the state constitution could only be used for public schools. Some of that money was going to private schools that discriminate based on religious affiliation, he added.

Supporters of voucher programs say they offer parents more educational choices for their children.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)