(WAFB) - Justice in the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the constitutional rights of Type 2 charter schools Tuesday to receive Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) funding and declared charter schools are indeed public schools.
The Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (LAPCS) says this is a major victory.
"Charter schools have been in Louisiana for over 25 years and today's ruling by the Louisiana Supreme Court confirms what we have known all along: charters are public schools. This is a major victory for 16,000 students who have been caught in the middle of a political fight over dollars for more than three years and for all those who advocate for more education options for parents," said Caroline Roemer, executive director of LAPCS.
Back in 2014, LAPCS seven Type 2 charter schools teamed up to counter a lawsuit filed by the Iberville Parish School Board and the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) that aimed to strip MFP funding from Type 2 charter schools. Currently, there are 42 Type 2 charter schools in the state.
"As a parent, I am thrilled that the state's highest court validated my choice to have a say in my child's education. Now, precious state dollars will continue to follow my child into our public school. We're grateful to the judges who understand that parents need options when traditional schools have failed us for generations," said Jean Spriggs-Brown, the mother of a child who attends Iberville Charter Academy.
Tuesday's ruling reverses a decision made earlier in the year by the First Circuit Court of Appeals that charter schools approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Type 2 charters) do not meet the definition of public schools spelled out in Louisiana's constitution. The justices ruled 5 to 2 to overrule this decision.
"We strongly believe that state funding for public education should follow the child, not the school district. This ruling ensures that all students who attend public schools, whether it's a charter school or a traditional district school, receive public dollars equitably," said Roemer.
"Today's supreme court ruling was the right one, affirming the rights of parents to choose the educational option that works for their children. This lawsuit from the union bosses was always about money and never about what was in the best interest of students. As parents, we are grateful that the Supreme Court recognized these public schools for what they are – public schools, and that we will continue to be trusted with our children's education decisions," said Christin White-Kaiser, the parent of a Type 2 public charter school student.
However, not all are happy about the ruling. The Louisiana Association of Educators responded to the decision Tuesday evening.
"I speak for the dedicated school employees of the Louisiana Association of Educators when I say I'm disappointed in the court's decision. This ruling solidifies the division of public schools into separate systems, creating greater inequities for our students," said LAE President Debbie Meaux.
Meaux also applauded Judge Jeff Hughes' dissent on the ruling. He addressed the importance of city and parish schools being managed by elected boards, saying these boards give taxpayers a means of assuring accountability in schools.
"Shortcuts around the Constitution, even for what may seem laudable or politically expedient, are inimical to democracy and are not cool," Hughes wrote.
LAE leaders plan to meet with attorneys to determine their next steps.
Charter schools that joined in the lawsuit were:
- Community School for Apprenticeship Learning, Inc.
- Lake Charles Charter Academy Foundation, Inc.
- International School of Louisiana
- New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy, Inc.
- Delta Charter Group
- Delhi Charter School
- Glencoe Education Foundation, Inc.