Tangipahoa fighting voucher program, claims interrupts desegregation efforts

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wwltv.com

Posted on October 30, 2012 at 6:30 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 30 at 6:41 PM

Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

TANGIPAHOA, La. -- On the same day state school leaders were supposed to defend the new voucher program in federal court, one Northshore school district challenging the program met to see what kind of progress might be affected by the case.

Tuesday, the school board met to get hard numbers laying out the district’s recent improvements, including an increase in its performance grade to a ‘C’ and achieving compliance with the decades-old order in several categories.

“We've been accumulating a lot of research about our school system and some very positive things, we've had a lot of successes, and there's some concerns," said board member Andy Anderson.

One of those concerns is the state’s scholarship program, which allows students to leave failing schools for private or better performing public schools, and take the money intended for the home school district with them.

So Tangipahoa is fighting it in federal court by asking a judge to exempt the district from the new program.

"Some portions of the voucher program can and may inhibit our ability to comply with our desgregation order," said Ashley Sandage, the school board desegregation Attorney.

The ruling calls for building several new schools and maintaining magnet programs. The district says the money leaving with the vouchers makes it hard to cover the costs of construction and the children leaving makes it hard to meet student assignment requirements.

The Louisiana Department of Education released a statement saying, “The LDOE is not a party to this lawsuit. However, the law is clear that there are no local dollars going to the scholarship program and these local communities are not required to pay a single penny to fund the scholarship program.”

School leaders in Tangipahoa say they just want what’s best for everyone.

"We want to follow the court order and we want to obey the state mandates and we have to make the system work,” said Anderson.

The hearing for state leaders to argue in favor of the voucher program staying in place in Tangipahoa is set for Nov. 26.

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