DOJ Looking Into Louisiana Voucher Program

U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle has determined that the Louisiana Board of Education must provide information about its state school voucher program to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) for review 10 days before sending notification of approval to parents. The ruling was made so that the DOJ could ensure that there is no segregation going on throughout the program with its minority groups, writes Danielle Dreilinger for nola.com.

The Lousiana Scholariship Program is given to low or moderate income families in failing public school districts to send their children to private schools at taxpayers’ expense. Proponents of this plan say that it is better for the children, especially minorities. Opponents of the program state that it is taking badly needed taxpayer money away from the public school system.

The DOJ has come under fire for trying to stop the voucher system. Though Attorney General Eric Holder flatly denies the claim, many insist that the department’s original intention was to halt the program and its vouchers. Representative Andy Harris (R-Maryland) accused Holder of not telling the truth about the department’s original intentions and not caring about the future of Louisiana’s children. Elizabeth Harrington of The Washington Free Beacon quotes Harris as saying:

“’I actually care about the education of children as Gov. Jindal does,’ Harris said. ‘Mr. Attorney General, you used federal money to go into a state court to try to hinder, hamper, disable a school voucher program—the majority of which goes to minority students. So I’m just going to take issue with your characterization of a talking point because we shouldn’t use children, especially minority children—you can shake your head all you want, maybe you disagree that we shouldn’t use minority children as wedges.’

Against the Justice Department’s wishes, Lemelle also maintained that the state does not give an analysis of how the voucher program affects segregation in public schools or if it does at all.  He also made it non mandatory that the state name the public schools that the  students would have gone to in their local school system. According to nola.com, the state must give the government a yearly list of all its public schools and their class performance ratings, in addition to documentation that proves voucher schools do not discriminate by race or ethnic identity.

In addition, Lemelle’s ruling  demands for a series of analyses at random times throughout the year. These reports would include a plethora of information on enrollment data and racial breakdowns at all district schools and the same data on private schools participating in the voucher program. It also would require the reasons why pupils found unacceptable for the voucher program are unaccepted.