Franklin County judge rules Kentucky’s school choice law unconstitutional

Franklin County judge rules Kentucky’s school choice law unconstitutional
Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 4:54 PM EDT
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KENTUCKY (WKYT) - A Franklin County judge has ruled Kentucky’s school choice law unconstitutional.

The law puts money toward a tax credit to let students move to schools, public or private, outside their district. Lawmakers narrowly passed the bill back in March.

Now, they may have to go back to the drawing board to keep this option in the commonwealth. However, some educators argue if this is a good move for Kentucky students.

Earlier this year, Governor Andy Beshear vetoed House Bill 563. Lawmakers overrode that veto to pass it into law.

Now, a Frankin County judge has put the plan on hold.

Public school advocates say Judge Phillip Shepherd was correct in ruling that parts of Kentucky’s school choice program are unconstitutional.

“We, from the very beginning, felt that it was unconstitutional because it was expending essentially tax dollars on private schools and private corporations,” said Eddie Campbell, Kentucky Education Association.

The law created scholaship tax credits that could be used at private schools in some parts of the state.

Judge Phillips ordered state officials to put on hold any plans to create tax credits or education opportunity accounts.

Supporters of the plan argue no money comes directly from the general fund.

It’s 100% false. This is a privately funded program. It’s funded through private donations through businesses and individuals that goes directly to helping students. This does not take one penny away from students,” said Andrew Vandiver, EdChoice Kentucky.

They plan to appeal that decision and say they expect to win in the end.

This is the type of program that’s been upheld across the United States, every state Supreme Court that’s taking this issue up has upheld a similar program,” Vandiver said.

“I think he was very clear in his decision that the Constitution requires the expansion of tax dollars be spent on public works,” Campbell said.

EdChoice said they hoped to have that appeal resolved by next fall, so students could begin using the program.

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