REPORT: ESA Pilot Program injunction lifted

Education savings account program can move forward
Education savings account program can move forward
Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 4:37 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - A Davidson County chancellor Wednesday dismissed the injunction that was keeping the Education Savings Account program on hold in Tennessee.

Commonly known as school vouchers, the Tennessee General Assembly previously passed the ESA in 2019, establishing a program allowing a limited number of eligible students to directly receive their share of state and local education funds, which would ordinarily be provided to the public school system they attend, to pay for private school education and associated expense.

Davidson county chancellor approved
Davidson county chancellor approved(Metro)

The motion was put on hold after the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Shelby County Government, and the Metropolitan Nashville Board of Education filed a lawsuit claiming the ESA Act violated several provisions of the Tennessee Constitution, including the Home Rule Amendment, the equal protection clauses and the education clause.

Tuesday’s decision was based on the state of Tennessee Supreme Court’s ruling that vouchers don’t violate the Home Rule Amendment for both Davidson and Shelby County. These are currently the only two counties that the school vouchers reportedly affect.

“With today’s lifting of the injunction, the department is excited to re-start work to plan for implementation of the ESA program to provide additional options for a high-quality education to Tennessee students and families,” said officials with the Tennessee Department of Education.

“Today, the court removed the final roadblock to getting Memphis and Nashville families additional options for high-quality education,” said Governor Lee. “Starting today, we will work to help eligible parents enroll this school year, as we ensure Tennessee families have the opportunity to choose the school that they believe is best for their child.”

The motion will now move forward in court.

Statement from the Senate Democratic Caucus spokesman Brandon Puttbrese:

“Public school tax dollars should not be used for private school vouchers. But thanks to a state Supreme Court decision that circumvented years of judicial precedent for political expedience, Gov. Bill Lee’s extreme agenda to defund our public schools is coming to fruition,” said Brandon Puttbrese, the Senate Democratic Caucus spokesman. “Gov. Lee is peddling false hope to families who, for years, have deserved better state funding for their public schools. Lee’s voucher scheme won’t come close to covering tuition at the best private schools, but it will steal real resources from public school students in need.”

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