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NEW ORLEANS -- The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit in federal court to try to stop Louisiana from issuing school vouchers to any students who would otherwise attend public schools under federal desegregation orders.

But the Black Alliance for Educational Options has come out in favor of the vouchers.

'Our primary focus is advocating for high quality educational options for low income black children,' said Eric Lewis, state director of the Black Alliance for Educational Options.

Louisiana's school voucher program allows students to transfer out of failing public schools and into private schools using taxpayer dollars.

The Obama administration argues that the vouchers have impeded the desegregation process in at least 13 districts, but Lewis told an informational meeting Monday night in LaPlace that the voucher program has increased opportunities for kids in failing schools.

'This program has provided an escape for 5,000 kids last school year, potentially 8,000 kids this school year,' Lewis said. 'And so again we see this as another roadblock in the way of kids and parents being able to have access to an option that hasn't previously been afforded to them.'

Gov. Bobby Jindal has called the federal lawsuit shameful.

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