Finding that an “opportunity scholarship” program enacted by the legislature in 2013 would reduce funding for public education by about $12 million, a civil superior court judge in Wake County, North Carolina recently issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the state from implementing the challenged legislation. Hart v. State of North Carolina. Under the challenged program, up to 2400 students would be eligible for scholarships of up to $4200 to attend private schools. Judge Robert H. Hobgood found that the private schools that receive these scholarship funds are not required to be accredited, to employ credentialed teachers, to be subject to any curriculum requirements or to demonstrate any level of student achievement.
The Court determined that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits because Article IX, sec. 6 of the State Constitution specifies that assets and revenue “for the purpose of public education” “shall be faithfully appropriated and used exclusively for the establishing and maintain a uniform system of free public schools.” In violation of this provision, the “opportunity scholarship” program would likely be funded with money that have been “set apart” for the public school system.
March 11, 2014