Teachers unions in Louisiana have lost another battle as the Louisiana Supreme Court has refused an injunction to stop the launch of Governor Bobby Jindal’s statewide voucher program until after the current lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the plans is resolved.
While a hearing on the matter is scheduled for October, union leaders attempted to gain the injunction order because of fears that reclaiming money already sent to private schools would be impossible even if they won the lawsuit.
Under the Governor’s program, taxpayer dollars are used to pay for private school tuition for students who would otherwise be attending public schools graded C-F by the state. Students began attending voucher schools earlier this month.
The Supreme Court decision was issued Wednesday without comment and was announced a day later by the Department of Education, which praised the ruling.
“The school year is already under way. It’s time to stop trying to prevent parents from making the choices they feel are right and start believing in the people closest to the students,” Superintendent of Education John White said in a statement.
While the ruling serves as another blow to union efforts to stall Jindal’s reforms, this is one that was largely expected. The Supreme Court ruling is simply upholding a procedural ruling from a lower court which determined the injunction was impossible to grant because of a 1969 law. The decades-old law bars injunctions from being granted if a state agency chief says that the injunction would cause a deficit in the department. Jindal administration leaders had already signed affidavits that the Department of Education would face a deficit if the voucher program were blocked so the court had no power to intervene.
The unions are still unbowed, however, claiming that the affidavit statements are fraudulent and that the procedural ruling has no comment on the merits of the constitutionality challenge.
“Even though we contend that their statements are demonstrably false — there is no way that not spending money can cause a deficit — the courts must accept the affidavits as factual and cannot challenge them in any way,” Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan said in a statement.
Joyce Haynes, leader of the Louisiana Association of Educators, said: “The courts only denied our request for a spending halt. The merits of the case have not yet been determined. The constitutionality of these laws is still very much in question.”