December 11, 2013, plaintiffs in Hart v. State of North Carolina asked
the Superior Court there to declare the state's new voucher law unconstitutional.
filed by parent-taxpayer plaintiffs, cites several provisions of the North
Carolina Constitution that
establish student and taxpayer rights, and responsibilities of the State.
For example, Article I states: "The people have a right to the privilege of
education, and it is the duty of the state to guard and maintain that right." Article
IX states: "The General Assembly shall provide by taxation and otherwise for
a general and uniform system of free public schools, which shall be maintained
at least nine months in every year, and wherein equal opportunities shall be
provided for all students." Article IX further states
that various state revenues "shall be faithfully appropriated and used exclusively
for establishing and maintaining a uniform system of free public schools."
Plaintiffs allege that the voucher law violates these provisions because it
diverts State tax revenue from free public schools to private schools.
Plaintiffs also cite Article V: "The power of taxation shall be exercised
in a just and equitable manner, for public purposes only," and "The General
Assembly may enact laws whereby the State, any county, city or town, and any
other public corporation may contract with and appropriate money to any person,
association, or corporation for the accomplishment of public purposes only."
Plaintiffs assert that the voucher law "violates Article V ... because it
transfers revenue paid by North Carolina taxpayers to private schools without
any accountability or requirements ensuring that students will actually receive
an education and thus does not accomplish any public purpose."
Plaintiffs ask for a declaratory judgment that the voucher law is unconstitutional
and a permanent injunction enjoining implementation of the law. For additional
claims, see the Complaint.
When North Carolina's voucher legislation was introduced, and the new law
was passed in May 2013, numerous
articles expressed concerns that:
- vouchers will drain funds from public schools;
- student achievement in voucher schools can be expected to be low, based
on poor results in the largest and longest running voucher programs in Milwaukee
- voucher schools are not required to follow state or federal law for students
- voucher schools are permitted to discriminate in student admissions on
the basis of race, gender, income, disability and religion;
- voucher schools can hire unlicensed teachers and are not required to conduct
criminal background checks of employees;
- voucher schools do not need to be accredited, will not be monitored by
the State Board of Education, and are not subject to open public meeting