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RALEIGH, N.C. (Oct 26, 2020) – Attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center are representing the North Carolina General Assembly in a legal fight to protect a scholarship program that provides educational opportunities for thousands of low-income students. Opponents of the program want to see the scholarships ended — which would force thousands of students to leave their current schools and would close the door to education opportunity for countless others. Meanwhile, the tried and tested program has already been upheld by the state’s Supreme Court and even recently expanded by the General Assembly.
The Liberty Justice Center is a national, nonprofit law firm that fights to protect school choice across America. The Center is best known for its 2018 victory in the Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME and its role in the successful 2020 school choice case Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue.
“This scholarship program is a lifeline for thousands of low-income students across North Carolina,” said Brian Kelsey, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. “This lawsuit is a poor attempt to relitigate a program that was already upheld by the state Supreme Court five years ago. The Opportunity Scholarship Program is good law and wholly constitutional. We’re proud to stand with the legislature to protect this vital program on behalf of every child in North Carolina, who deserves a world-class education.”
In 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly created the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships of approximately $4,000 to children from lower-income families in the state. Families use these scholarships to attend a private school that fits their child’s unique learning needs. The Program was challenged in court and then upheld by the state’s Supreme Court in 2015.
Since 2015, this state has successfully operated the North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Program, which has helped over ten thousand low-income students a year receive the funds they need to attend a private school that fits their needs. Plaintiffs bring yet another challenge to the Program, this time charging that, as applied, the Program is discriminatory and does not further the public purpose because many of the schools where parents direct their scholarship funds to be used are religious.
Seven North Carolina parents, in conjunction with the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) and the National Education Association (NEA) are trying to block the program from continuing.
Case filings are available here: Kelly v. North Carolina
Notice of Intervention, Oct 26, 2020
Answer and Motion to Dismiss, Oct 26, 2020
Press Release, Oct 26, 2020