With the Department of Justice (DOJ) continuing to pursue federal oversight of individual scholarships awarded to Louisiana children who want to leave failing schools, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) said he believes those running the federal government are “more interested in skin color than education.”
As Breitbart News reported in November, a federal judge had ruled in favor of the Obama administration by requiring Louisiana to permit federal oversight of its school choice voucher program, a decision that opened the door to the court’s acceptance of further involvement by the federal government in local school choice policies.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, pursuant to the court order, both the DOJ, which has been suing Louisiana since August, and the state filed separate proposals on Tuesday for sharing information regarding the state’s school voucher program.
The state is providing a three-year review period for its voucher program which offers opportunity scholarships to low-income, minority children to flee failing public schools. Louisiana has already given the federal government data on its program that covers the past two years, and has proposed a review of the scholarships granted in the 2014-2015 academic year. The DOJ would have to prove that the program violates federal desegregation orders for the case to avoid dismissal.
The DOJ, however, is pursuing a procedure that would require Louisiana to hand over information on every voucher applicant child prior to receiving the award, a system that could easily allow lawsuits on any single voucher the Obama administration did not approve, based on a student’s race.
As the Free Beacon reports, the DOJ’s proposed review process “would impose 13 deadlines on the state and require a 45-day review period where the federal government would have the opportunity to pre-approve all student vouchers.”
While the DOJ states its concern is that Louisiana will be allowing public school funding to be passed on to private schools that discriminate based on race, Louisiana has argued DOJ’s concern is a non-issue, since the private schools participating in the state’s school voucher program must have already proven themselves to have met the federal requirements for non-discrimination in order to participate in the program in the first place.
“The Scholarship program requires participating schools to surrender control over their admissions policy for a certain subset of their seats,” the state filing said. “The schools must take all comers, regardless of race, and they have no control over which eligible students receive awards.”
The DOJ is also requesting that the applications for private schools include “the student enrollment, by race, at the school for the current school year.” With the data it receives, it could then disrupt the voucher program by singling out individual awards it believes are discriminatory, an action that would likely result in litigation.
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) described asking for the racial composition of all private school students as “frightening.”
“I am also shocked to learn that the Justice Department is now asking for the state to provide an analysis of the racial composition of our state’s private schools,” he said. “The federal government’s new request is a frightening overreach of the federal government and shows it knows no bounds.”
“The Department of Justice proposal reeks of federal government intrusion and proves the people in Washington running our federal government are more interested in skin color than they are in education,” Jindal added.