Friday, August 22, 2014

Trial Court Strikes Down North Carolina School Voucher Program

In North Carolina yesterday, a state trial court judge struck down on state constitutional grounds North Carolina's Opportunity Scholarship program. As reported by Reuters, Judge Robert Hobgood ruled that the voucher program diverts funds which can constitutionally be used only for public schools. Also some of the funding is going to schools that discriminate on the basis of religion. A 22-minute video of the judge reading his ruling is available online.  The written opinion does not appear to yet be available.  Supporters of the program as well as the state's Attorney General plan to appeal.  Previously the state had attempted to speed up awards of scholarship funds under the program to beat Judge Hobgood's decision. (See prior posting.) However, according to the Raleigh News & Observer:
The state agency in charge of administering the program had tried to disburse the first round of funds last week, but a technical glitch prevented the payments from going through, said Elizabeth McDuffie, director of grants, training and research at the agency.
The process was launched again starting on Monday with the goal of getting funds at the private schools by the end of this week.
When Hobgood ruled Thursday morning, the disbursement was halted. “No money has left the building,” McDuffie said.
UPDATE: A transcript of Judge Hobgood's ruling from the bench is now avaiable.