TANGIPAHOA, La. -- A favorable court ruling for one Northshore parish means new life for dozens of other parishes challenging the state’s new education reform.
Monday, a federal judge agreed with the Tangipahoa Parish School Board that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s voucher program interrupts the district’s desegregation order. The temporary injunction means the end of any payments to schools with Tangipahoa voucher students.
For almost 40 other districts facing similar orders, including St. Tammany and Washington parishes, the ruling is encouraging.
“We knew all along that the local funds were going to affect students going to the voucher schools, and this is one verification that we probably are right in that respect," said St. Tammany Parish School Board President Jack Loup.
On Wednesday, St. Tammany joins dozens of other school districts and at least two teachers’ unions in questioning another aspect of the scholarship program, which is its constitutionality.
State Superintendent of Schools John White vows to appeal Tangipahoa’s injunction ruling and says about Wednesday’s hearing, “Tens of thousands of children are enrolled in these schools. Taxpaying parents made the decision that this is what is best for their child and their tax dollars. We're now in the middle of the school year, and even then some people continue to stop at nothing to prevent parents from doing what's best for their children."
Some parents, who aren’t taking sides, understand the legal haggling.
“Parents need to know, need to have answers as to how the program is going to be like going forward, and I think the legal challenges should continue until all of this has been settled,” said Shane Hodgson, who has two children in St. Tammany schools.
But districts like St. Tammany hope Tangipahoa’s win for now, will be a win overall for everyone.
"This is a good Plan B,” said Loup, “For somebody like Tangipahoa to get in there and take the first step and for a judge to side with them, it certainly gives us a lot of hope for our case."
The trial date for a permanent injunction hearing for Tangipahoa Parish has not been set yet. The hearing for the constitutionality lawsuit will take place in Baton Rouge and could last up to three days.