Institute for Justice · May 7, 2020

Today, the Chancery Court for Davidson County declared that it would not stay its injunction halting Tennessee’s Education Savings Account Pilot Program Act, which the Court had declared unconstitutional Monday. Absent relief from Tennessee’s appellate courts, this means that the state must stop processing ESA applications for the 2020-2021 school year.

Natu Bah and Builguissa Diallo have already sought permission to appeal Monday’s ruling in the Tennessee Court of Appeals and had asked for a stay of the injunction so they could use the ESA Program during the litigation so they could send their children to better schools. Now, they may be denied that chance.

“The ESA Program was designed to empower families to escape failing public schools. The lawsuit against it is not about protecting the interests of Tennessee children,” IJ Senior Attorney Tim Keller said. “Today’s decision effectively traps children of parents like our clients, Natu Bah and Builguissa Diallo, in failing public schools.“

If permitted to continue, the program would offer a lifeline to families that would like to leave public schools that do not meet their children’s needs but who lack the financial resources to do so. Under the program, qualifying students will receive an education savings account with up to $7,300 for a wide array of educational expenses, including tuition, textbooks and tutoring services. Now, Tennessee parents waiting to use the program must wait for further action from Tennessee’s appellate courts.