Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Special-needs scholarships under fire again

"A group of 12 Oklahomans filed a lawsuit in state court Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of a law that allows the use of public funds to send special-needs students to private schools," Kim Archer reports for the Tulsa World. The petition is here.

State Rep. Jason Nelson tells the Tulsa World:
I first heard about the lawsuit against the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Program from a parent late this afternoon who is concerned about what will happen to her child now.

The lawsuit appears to be a regurgitation of the lawsuit filed by Jenks and Union Public Schools that was tossed out by the Oklahoma Supreme Court just last fall.

This lawsuit comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed by President Obama's administration against a similar law in Louisiana.

The opposition here and in the Louisiana case appears to be about an ideological hostility to the rights of parents to direct the education of their children -- not about legitimate legal concerns.

This is clear in the lawsuit filed today. The lead plaintiff is employed by a private religiously affiliated university that was allocated more than $380,000 in state funds through the Oklahoma Tuition Equalization Grant program (OTEG) for the current academic year. OTEG is virtually identical to the Henry Scholarship. The lead plaintiff hasn't challenged the OTEG law that he benefits from but is challenging the Henry Scholarship. I would be embarrassed.

There are many state programs that do exactly what the plaintiffs here claim is unconstitutional. The plaintiffs simply can't see that this is not about funding institutions but about ensuring children get the best education possible regardless of where they get that education.

I look forward to working with Supt. Barresi, Attorney General Pruitt and other supporters to vigorously defend the law.

The Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Program is a constitutional, common-sense law that benefits the students using the program, the public school system, and the taxpayers. I'm confident the law will ultimately be upheld.

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