University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Louisiana Federation of Teachers v. Louisiana ED-LA-0001
Docket / Court 612,733 ( State Court )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Education
Speech and Religious Freedom
Case Summary
In 2012, the Louisiana State Legislature passed Act 2 and State Continuing Resolution No. 99, which created a state-wide school voucher program called the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program (SSEEP). Under SSEEP, students who attended public schools that performed poorly on ... read more >
In 2012, the Louisiana State Legislature passed Act 2 and State Continuing Resolution No. 99, which created a state-wide school voucher program called the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program (SSEEP). Under SSEEP, students who attended public schools that performed poorly on state assessments and which failed to meet certain income requirements could elect to use state funds to transfer to different schools, public or not. The state provided a “voucher” to cover the cost of a student’s tuition at a nonpublic school. The money for the voucher came out of money allocated to each student in the public school system. In essence, the voucher system allowed the state to take money earmarked for public schools and use it for nonpublic schools.

The Louisiana Federation of Teachers, the East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers, the Jefferson Federation of Teachers, one parent and one teacher of public school children filed a petition for a declaratory judgment, as well as preliminary and permanent injunctive relief against the Department of Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). The plaintiffs alleged that Act 2 and SCR 99 were an unconstitutional use of State funds, as allocated by the Louisiana Constitution article VIII §13(B), which requires the state to develop and adopt a formula to determine the cost of a minimum foundation program of education in all public elementary and secondary schools, and to equitably allocate the funds to school systems, and unconstitutionally divert the per-pupil mandated funds, violating §13(C-D). The district court agreed, and ruled for the plaintiffs. The state appealed the case to the Supreme Court of Louisiana.

The Supreme Court of Louisiana handed down judgment on the case on May 7, 2013. The court carefully did not rule on the efficacy of the voucher program, but only its constitutionality. The Court upheld the district court’s decision that diverting the funds violated article VIII §13 of the Louisiana Constitution. They further struck down SCR 99 on the basis that the legislators had not followed proper constitutional procedure when enacting it. The court stressed the fact that the ruling was based on the idea that funds allocated to public schools cannot be diverted to private entities, and avoided the question of a constitutional right to education.

The court further did not address Amicus Curiae from the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the ACLU, and the Interfaith Alliance Foundation arguing that the school voucher program should be found unconstitutional for violating freedom of religion and separation of church and state (as the voucher would have allowed state funds reserved for public schools to flow to parochial schools instead).

According to the National Education Access Network, “the decision resulted in $200 million more in school funding to all the states’ 69 school boards...for the school year. However, it remains an option available to the state to fund the school voucher program through alternative means.”

Rachel Carpman - 02/28/2019


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Education
Funding
Defendant(s) Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
State of Louisiana
Plaintiff Description Teachers associations, individual teacher and individual parent in Louisiana.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Filing Year 2012
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  Case-law summary: Louisiana Federation of Teachers v. Louisiana
www.right-to-education.org
Date: Feb. 28, 2019
(Right to Education Project)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Judgment (E.D. La.)
ED-LA-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/30/2012
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Louisiana Supreme Court Decision (118 So.3d 1033)
ED-LA-0001-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/07/2013
Source: Supreme Court website
show all people docs
Judges Guidry, John M. (State Appellate Court) show/hide docs
ED-LA-0001-0002
Kelley, Timothy E. (State Trial Court) show/hide docs
ED-LA-0001-0001

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -