(Indianapolis, Ind.) - A court could decide next week if Indiana’s new law allowing school vouchers can be resolved.
The case is in Marion Superior Court VII where Judge Michael Keele heard arguments Thursday regarding House Enrolled Act 1003 (Public Law 92).
The Indiana State Teachers Association and others filed a lawsuit in July seeking a preliminary injunction on the program, arguing it is unconstitutional. The plaintiffs claim it will drain $65.8 million in funding from public schools and that tax money should not be used to support religious education.
More than 240 schools have been approved to participate in the program, but only six are non-religious. A number of local schools are among them including St. Mary School in Aurora, St. Louis School in Batesville, St. Michael School in Brookville, St. Paul Elementary School in Guilford, and St. Lawrence School in Lawrenceburg.
According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that state vouchers for private religious schools do not violate the U.S. Constitution, however, the ISTA’s suit alleges the law is in violation of Indiana’s Constitution.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is defending the voucher law, of which he says lawmakers followed the state Constitution.
"In defending the state law, we contend Hoosiers' elected representatives in the Legislature followed the Constitution when they devised a system for the benefit of students that offers families more educational options. Using the new state choice scholarships, more than 150 students already have enrolled in different accredited schools that start this week; and any injunction would be extremely disruptive to their education while this litigation is pending," Zoeller said.
If Judge Keele rules in favor of the injunction sought by the ISTA, the program would be halted temporarily while litigation proceeds.
The Indiana Department of Education said last week more than 2,800 children have been approved for the voucher program beginning this year.