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La. Supreme Court Rules School Vouchers Unconstitutional

The Louisiana Supreme Court handed Gov. Bobby Jindal a loss today: It agreed with a lower court that his method of funding private school tuition through vouchers was unconstitutional.

For the past year, explains the AP, Jindal's administration has used "money earmarked for public schools in the state's Minimum Foundation Program to pay for private school tuition."

In a 6-1 vote, the court decided the funding mechanism was unconstitutional.

"The state funds approved through the unique MFP process cannot be diverted to nonpublic schools or other nonpublic course providers according to the clear, specific and unambiguous language of the constitution."s," read the majority opinion by Justice John Weimer.

The AP adds:

"Weimer emphasized in his opinion that the court was not ruling on the effectiveness or value of the voucher program, which makes available state-funded private school tuition to students from low- to moderate-income families who might otherwise be forced to attend a poorly performing public school. The ruling, Weimer said, was strictly limited to constitutional issues."

The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reports that Justice Greg Guidry dissented saying "he saw no constitutional reason the state could not use a student's per-pupil allocation 'to fund scholarships' because a student's per-pupil allocation reverts to the state when he or she leaves the system."

Jindal and the state superintendent, reports, the Times Picayune have not identified alternate funding for the 8,000 students approved for vouchers for the 2013-14 school year.

NPR's Claudio Sanchez tells our Newscast unit:

"Teachers' unions and the state's school boards association have led the opposition to school vouchers in Louisiana. Citing the 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of vouchers, school choice proponents were quick to condemn the Louisiana court's ruling saying it violated parents' and children's civil rights. An appeal is likely."

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