Shelby County joins lawsuit targeting Tennessee’s school voucher law

Shelby County joins lawsuit targeting Tennessee’s school voucher law

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County has joined a lawsuit against the State of Tennessee’s 2019 school voucher law.

Filed in Davidson County Chancery Court Thursday, the suit claims the Tennessee Education Savings Account Pilot Program violates the Tennessee constitution.

Other plaintiffs include the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County and the Metropolitan Nashville Board of Public Education.

The voucher program will provide taxpayer money to low income families in Shelby and Davidson counties to help send their children to private schools. It is scheduled to go into effect in fall 2020.

The Tennessee Department of Education, Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn and Gov. Bill Lee are named as defendants.

“I voted against it and would vote against it again. I am glad to see they are moving in this direction,” said Rep. Antonio Parkinson, District 98 (D).

Critics of the voucher program say it unfairly takes money from public schools.

“All of it has been unfair. The whole ball of wax has been unfair and a burden and baring down on Shelby and Davidson,” said Rep. Parkinson.

In response to the lawsuit Shelby County Schools issued a statement saying, “We support the challenges to the state’s Education Savings Act. Vouchers in Tennessee are an unfortunate roadblock on the path toward serving students in our state’s two largest cities. Shelby County Schools will persist in our mission to serve children and families and provide our students with excellent options for their education.”

The suit is asking for the voucher program to be declared unconstitutional, unlawful and unenforceable. It’s also asking for a permanent injunction preventing the state from enforcing it.

Gov. Lee’s said Monday at his State of the State education a primary focus for 2020. Previously Lee has said he is committed to pursuing any option that helps Tennessee’s students achieve their highest potential.

Copyright 2020 WMC. All rights reserved.