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Private school vouchers ruled unconstitutional

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A North Carolina judge is ordering a stop to the use of taxpayer money to pay for tuition at private or religious schools.

A Wake County judge ruled the private school voucher program unconstitutional.

Wake county Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood ruled Thursday that the program is unconstitutional on several levels.

Hobgood says the program pays for students to attend schools that are not obliged to meet state curriculum requirements, violating the state constitution’s guarantee for students to have an opportunity to a sound basic education.

Hobgood said it’s also unconstitutional for public funds to go to privately run and managed schools. At Cape Fear Academy the issue of vouchers hasn’t really been an issue.

“We do offer financial aid, but we don’t offer full package financial aid,” said Susan Harrell, Cape Fear Academy’s Director of Advancement at Cape Fear Academy, “So, whether or not a student would be able to make up the difference in any financial aid that we offered on top of their vouchers is questionable.
Critics of the program have all along said this was the issue with vouchers in the first place.

Diverting funds away from public schools while not actually helping low income students get a better education.
Opponents and supporters of the vouchers responded.

“We welcome this historic decision to preserve and protect North Carolina’s public schools from this dreadful voucher proposal,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina NAACP. “This is a wonderful victory for all schoolchildren in North Carolina. The NAACP, which filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs, is grateful to our partners-the North Carolina Association of Educators, the NC Justice Center, the many school boards and the legal team-that worked so diligently to stop this bad law.”

“With great disappointment I learned of today’s decision by a superior court judge to strike down the Opportunity Scholarships. This issue is not about religion or religious education—this issue is about a parents’ ability to choose the best educational setting for their child,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, with the Diocese of Raleigh, “I support the position of the Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina. I am grateful for the work they have done in advocating for the rights of parents to choose the proper educational environment for their children.”

The judge said money must stop flowing to private schools as of Thursday morning. It’s not clear if some of the money was already distributed earlier this week as planned and whether that must be reimbursed.


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