BATON ROUGE — The legal battle over
the financing of charter schools will soon be in the hands of the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Following a stay by the 1st Circuit
Court of Appeal, charter schools will continue to receive public
funding. However, the vice president of education and workforce
development of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry
said that could be changed depending on the decision of the state
“Should the plaintiffs prevail at the Supreme
Court, that will require the state to find an outside the MFP source
of funding,” Brigitte Nieland told the Louisiana Record.
the moment, the state Supreme Court is set to decide whether or not
to hear the case.
“Then depending upon what the court’s ruling
is nothing will change, and they will still be funded through the MFP
the way they have been or if the ruling goes with the plaintiffs that
would force outside line item appropriation for next year,” Nieland
said. “So, that would have to come up in this year’s legislative
It is a constant battle for charter schools, Nieland
“They just don’t think that charter schools ought to
exist, and that any school system should have to compete for students
and dollars,” Nieland said.
The plaintiffs are alleging “that
charter schools are not systems and the constitution, which was
written before the advent of charter schools, refers to school
systems,” she said. Nieland defended charter schools by saying they
are public schools in every sense of the word.
“Yet because they
are not technically a system, they shouldn’t have the right to have
the same funding as other public schools,” Nieland said. “Even though
they have to meet all the same criteria regarding testing and
everything else. It is just the latest attack.”
She said the
Louisiana Association of Educators and the other plaintiffs are
seeking to shut down any competition for public-funding dollars.
think their ultimate design would be to eliminate the legal
possibility of having charter schools because they only see it as
competition for dollars,” Nieland said. “They don’t see it in
the terms of what it is doing for education and families.”
Debbie Meaux, president of the LAE, told the Louisiana
Record in an email
interview that the case was about the constitutionality of the
funding dispersement of the MFP. She also said the public schools
would be open to receiving all charter-school students if they could
not longer operate.
“Public schools will of course receive every
child that comes to their doors,” Meaux said. “We always have and
will continue to do so.”
In the complaint,
which was originally filed in 2014, the plaintiff’s lawyers argued
that funding Type 2 charter schools from the Minimum Foundation
Program violated the state’s Constitution, which required MFP funds
to be given to parish and city schools.
“The result in this
case was largely foreshadowed by the Louisiana Supreme Court’s 2013
decision that voucher schools could not be funded through the MFP,”
Brian Blackwell, the lead attorney for the LAE, was quoted in a press
release. “MFP dollars are clearly restricted
to city and parish school systems/ Type 2 charter schools simply are
not city and parish school systems.”
There are 35 Type 2 charter
schools in the state and, according to the LAE,
they received $80 million from the MFP.
“It’s time to correct
the unconstitutional diversion of funds (both state and local) so
that no child’s education will be impeded,” Meaux said in the
press release. “We look forward to a swift and final resolution to
this issue so that our public-school educators can continue to focus
on increasing student success and moving our public schools forward.”