Up to 2400 students in lower income families to confirm their enrollment in private schools
By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
August 7, 2014
Up to 2,400 students in lower-income families looking to expand their educational possibilities will be able to confirm their enrollment in private schools late next week as Opportunity Scholarship Grants — $4,200 each — are distributed Aug. 15.
The grant program, funded by $10 million earmarked by lawmakers to be administered by the State Education Assistance Authority, remains under legal attack from the North Carolina Association of Educators and the N.C. Justice Center. But the latest attempt to waylay the funds was denied by Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood on July 30.
Judge Hobgood had initially issued an injunction against the scholarships in February, a ruling that the State Supreme Court overturned in May, allowing the program to move ahead even as the case is set to come back before the Superior Court on Aug. 19. Opponents pushed to have a new order issued that would delay grants until after the Superior Court decision, which is expected by Aug. 22. But Hobgood refused to do so.
“If taxpayer money goes out before the date of the hearing, then I’m just following what the Supreme Court has told me to do,” the judge said. “I recognize they’re the Supreme Court, and I’m a superior court judge.”
Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, commended not only the court ruling, but also the Legislature’s decision to give public school teachers a 7 percent pay increase and to budget an additional $840,000 for 400 more scholarships for the spring semester.
“All of these recent and important events, from the additional funding allocation, bill modification and now lower court ruling, signal that the Opportunity Scholarship Program is in great demand and legally constitutional,” said Allison.
“In light of these events, my hope is that special interest groups will cease and desist from using weak legal tactics to distract and delay, and allow the families who obviously desire this educational option to exercise their freedom to finally choose the education model that could work best for their children.”
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said the ruling and additional funds will help not only low-income families but all taxpayers as it will save the state money in the long run since the amount spent on each grant is less than the per pupil rate for public school spending.
He was also pleased to see that Hobgood granted a motion to allow House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) to intervene as defendants in the lawsuit.