Arlington, Va.—Today, the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a decision allowing the state’s school choice program to proceed while the court considers a pending lawsuit. The decision is a momentous win for more than 1,800 students who were awarded scholarships, but then told they were put on an indefinite hold pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
“The decision lifts a huge burden of uncertainty off the shoulders of hundreds of North Carolina families and private schools,” said Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Dick Komer, who is lead counsel for two families intervening in the case. “Although today’s decision isn’t the final word on the program, it bodes well for full vindication. More importantly, it bodes well for the families whose only wish is to find the best education for their children.”
The court partially granted the Institute for Justice’s petition to allow the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). The OSP has been on hold since late August, when Judge Robert Hobgood ruled the program unconstitutional. The stay will allow 1,878 students who accepted scholarships before August 21, 2014, some of whom are already attending private schools, to receive those scholarships. No other funds may be distributed until the cases are decided on appeal.
North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, which was enacted in 2013, allows low-income parents to afford private school for their children whose needs aren’t being met by public schools.
The injunction will be lifted while the parents, who are represented by the Institute for Justice, and the General Assembly pursue their appeal claiming that Judge Hobgood’s ruling was improper.
“The Court of Appeals has cleared the way for these cases to proceed to their inevitable conclusion: victory for the parents and students of North Carolina,” said IJ Attorney Renée Flaherty. “We are encouraged that the Court of Appeals will not allow the program to be derailed and children to be pulled from schools while the appeals proceed.”
More information on the case is available at: http://www.ij.org/ncchoice