TribLIVE

| USWorld

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Louisiana Gov. Jindal, Justice Department in fracas over school vouchers

AP
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says the Obama administration is 'trying to keep kids trapped in failing public schools.'

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Associated Press
Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 9:54 p.m.
 

NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Justice Department sued Louisiana on Saturday to stop the state from distributing school vouchers in any district that remains under a desegregation court order.

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal called the department's action “shameful” and said President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder “are trying to keep kids trapped in failing public schools against the wishes of their parents.”

“The Obama administration thinks parents should have to seek their approval any time parents want to send their child to a school of their choice,” Jindal said in a news release. “After generations of being denied a choice, parents finally can choose a school for their child, but now the federal government is stepping in to prevent parents from exercising this right. Shame on them. Parents should have the ability to decide where to send their child to school.”

Louisiana has 70 school districts, and 34 remain under desegregation court orders, many of which are decades old.

In papers filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, the Justice Department said Louisiana distributed vouchers in 2012-13 to nearly 600 public school students in districts that are still under such orders, and “many of those vouchers impeded the desegregation process.”

The department said Louisiana has given vouchers this school year to students in at least 22 districts remaining under desegregation orders. It's asking the court, starting with the 2014-15 school year, to permanently block the state from awarding vouchers in districts that are under desegregation orders, unless those districts seek court approval.

Louisiana lawmakers approved a voucher program in 2008 for low-income New Orleans students who were in failing schools. The Louisiana Scholarship Program was later expanded statewide. It allows children in school districts graded C, D or F to receive public money to attend private schools.

Jindal called school choice “a moral imperative.”

“Make no mistake — this motion is a threat to the children in our state who only get one chance to grow up and deserve the opportunity to get the best education so they can pursue their dreams,” Jindal said.

A federal desegregation lawsuit for Louisiana was originally filed in 1971 and court papers list the case as closed in 1976. However, there have been several filings in the case in the past several months, including the one by the Justice Department.

In arguing that the voucher program had hurt desegregation efforts, the Justice Department cited an example of Independence Elementary School in Tangipahoa Parish. It said the school lost five white students because of the voucher program, “reinforcing the racial identity of the school as a black school.” It also said Cecilia Primary School in St. Martin Parish School District is a majority-white school in a majority-black district, and it lost six black students because of vouchers, “reinforcing the school's racial identity as a white school.”

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Obama to mandate steeper emissions cuts from power plants
  2. 2 women advance to final phase of Army Ranger training
  3. State Department accuses top Clinton aide of violations
  4. Dusty Atlantic Ocean thwarts tropical storms
  5. Construction of giant bridges sparks curiosity, high demand for public tours
  6. Fires’ fury unabated in California
  7. U.S., Hong Kong researchers develop computer model to examine spread of influenza
  8. Pressure mounts for Biden to join 2016 White House race
  9. Marines finally ready to roll out controversial fighter jet
  10. 4 dead, 65 sickened in Bronx by Legionella
  11. Food industry players fighting proposed dietary guidelines drop millions on lobbyists