Court says Alabama school choice program allowed to continue for 2014-15 school year

Patrick R. Gibbons

alabama-choice-operate-appeal_lgAn Alabama circuit judge today overturned the injunction he had issued just 12 days ago on the state’s new private scholarship program.

Circuit Judge Gene Reese had ruled the Alabama Accountability ACT (AAA) unconstitutional on May 28, which meant the program had to end at the conclusion of the 2013-2014 school year. Following that ruling, lawyers for the state and the Institute for Justice filed a motion to overturn the injunction as the case was being appealed to the state Supreme Court. Today, Reese issued a stay on his own injunction against the AAA.

That is good news for the students participating in the private school refundable tax-credit and scholarship programs.

“Today is another step towards victory for Alabama parents and students,” said Bert Gall, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice. “The trial court’s ruling means that parents across the state can continue to rely on the Accountability Act’s school choice programs while this case moves forward on appeal.”

The Alabama Accountability Act allows parents who transfer their children from low-performing public schools to higher performing public or private schools to receive a refundable tax credit. The AAA also allows for scholarship granting organizations to create private school scholarships from individual and corporate donations. The AAA also provides tax-credits for donations to scholarship organizations.

In a separate order today, Judge Reese also denied parents of the newer scholarship students the right to intervene in support of the program.

Gall says these parents couldn’t participate in the trial court case because they hadn’t yet received scholarships for their children when the suit was first filed back in August of 2013. “It was wrong to deny them the right to intervene,” said Gall, arguing that the tax-credit scholarships will serve many more students than the refundable tax-credits.


(Full disclosure: Step Up For Students, one of the co-hosts of this blog, provides assistance on application processing and information technology to the Alabama Scholarship Fund)

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