HAMMOND, La. -- Dozens of private schools across the state have become an educational haven for thousands of students of students trying to escape failing schools.
But after two separate court decisions made last week shot down the way the state pays for public school students to attend private schools with state money, the future of the voucher program is in question and parents using it are not happy.
'It's a great, great opportunity and I'd really be disappointed if they went against it,' said Shelly Stabile, whose son is a St. Tammany Parish student.
While the program remains status quo across most of Louisiana, payments for voucher students in Tangipahoa Parish stop immediately because a judge ruled the program affects the desegregation efforts ongoing there.
That school board's attorney says the decision, as it stands, could mean in just a few weeks, that more than 50 voucher students will either have to return to their failing school or their parents will have to pay the rest of the year's tuition.
The state and Catholic schools say they won't let either happen, but parents are worried.
'It's kind of devastating to the idea of taking that away and what's going to happen,' said Tangipahoa parent Lisa Proffit-Rau.
School leaders who contributed to challenging the voucher program agree that the result may not be what's best for children here at new schools, so they say a compromise should be found, like the voucher program used for years in New Orleans.
'It was done with a different state funding source. Continuing that model keeps those options available for those parents,' said Tangipahoa Parish School Board Member Brett Duncan.
Parents in Tangipahoa with students attending private schools with the voucher program are invited to attend an information meeting Wednesday night at 6 p.m., at the Greater Refuge Temple Ministries in Amite, to talk over what's next for the voucher program and their students.