CONCORD, N.H.—Today, the Merrimack Superior Court ruled against a legal challenge to New Hampshire’s Education Freedom Account (EFA) Program, siding with the state and parents who intervened with the help of the Institute for Justice (IJ). Presiding Justice Amy L. Ignatius determined that the Legislature “established proper safeguards and did not impermissibly delegate a government function.”
“The EFA Program helps my daughters attend a school that meets their unique needs and in which they are thriving,” said Amy Shaw, one of the parents who intervened in the lawsuit. “It is a great relief that the program will continue to support educational options that work for my kids and for so many other families across the state.”
The New Hampshire General Court created the EFA program to provide low- and middle-income families with education savings accounts that can be used for various education expenses, including private school tuition. In December 2022, Debrah Howes, who is also the head of the American Federation of Teachers in New Hampshire, sued the state Education Commissioner claiming the program violated restrictions on educational funding in the state constitution and state law. Parents Amy Shaw, Jessica Ash, and Karl Jackson, with IJ’s help, intervened to protect the EFA program.
“We are glad to see that the court rejected yet another attempt by opponents of choice programs to deny educational opportunities to families,” said IJ Educational Choice Attorney David Hodges. “Howes didn’t dispute that the New Hampshire Constitution permits the state to establish initiatives like the EFA Program, which provide needed educational options to thousands of students. She quibbled with the funding mechanism, trying to open a new type of attack on choice.”
IJ is the nation’s leading defender of educational choice programs, having won multiple cases at the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2022, IJ successfully challenged Maine’s exclusion of religious schools from the state’s tuition program in the landmark case Carson v. Makin. In 2020, IJ challenged the New Hampshire tuitioning program’s restrictions on parents choosing religious schools. The lawsuit resulted in the General Court eliminating the unconstitutional restrictions last year. And in 2014, IJ successfully defended New Hampshire’s tax credit scholarship program at the state supreme court.