Voucher Trial Heads to Closing Arguments

Nov 30, 2012

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Lawyers on both sides of the lawsuit challenging the state's private school voucher program are slated to deliver closing arguments today in 19th District Court.

It's unclear if Judge Tim Kelley will immediately issue a ruling.

More than two hours into a second day of testimony, Judge Kelley told lawyers he didn't think any testimony was needed. The case, he said, was purely a legal issue based on public documents.

Most of the testimony Thursday came from Department of Education finance chief Beth Scioneaux who was grilled on how money flows to districts through the state's funding formula known as the MFP.

Scioneaux confirmed that $13 million would be withheld from districts this year to pay for vouchers.

BESE President Penny Dastugue testified that the top school board in the state uses the funding formula to promote its vision for education in Louisiana.

"Historically we have supported choice programs," she said.

Last on the stand was Valerie Evans. Her 11-year-old son has been enrolled in a Catholic school since 2008 through the voucher program started in New Orleans. Vouchers had been paid for separately in the state budget before BESE folded the program, which was expanded statewide, into the MFP.

After testimony concluded, Judge Kelley said he may want post-trial briefs before he rules on whether the voucher program is constitutional.

"This is a very important case to the children of this state," he said. "This is a very important case to the citizens."