Sharon McCloskey and Lindsay Wagner of NC Policy Watch here fill in the key details of today’s voucher decision.

Judge Robert Hobgood pulled no punches:

“In a stunning rebuke to state lawmakers’ efforts to bring school vouchers to North Carolina, Wake County Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood today found the recently-enacted “Opportunity Scholarship Program” unconstitutional and permanently enjoined disbursement of state funds for that purpose.

“The General Assembly fails the children of North Carolina when they are sent with public taxpayer money to private schools that have no legal obligation to teach them anything,” Hobgood said.”

He added:

“In his ruling today Hobgood recognized the state’s obligation to provide a “sound basic education” to the children attending public schools in North Carolina as mandated by the Supreme Court in its Leandro decision .

“The General Assembly cannot constitutionally delegate this responsibility to unregulated private schools by use of taxpayer opportunity scholarships to low income parents who have self-assessed their children to be at risk,” he said.

“Hobgood noted that the private schools receiving the scholarships are not subject to any requirements or standards regarding the curriculum that they teach, have no requirements for student achievement, are not obligated to demonstrate any growth in student performance and are not even obligated to provide a minimum amount of instructional time.”

The state argued that the $10 million for vouchers was not taken from public school funds. The judge rejected that claim, saying: ““Follow the money,” the judge added. “The clear legislative intent is to utilize taxpayer money to fund private schools.”

Judge Hopgood also wrote:

““It appears to this court that the General Assembly is seeking to push at-risk students from low income families into non-public schools in order to avoid the cost of providing them a sound basic education in public school as mandated by the Leandro decision,” he said.

“Parents who intervened in the case, represented by the Koch Brothers-backed law firm Institute for Justice, did move forward with an appeal of Hobgood’s order, contending that they would be harmed by the court’s delay of the voucher program’s implementation.”

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