DOJ Demanding Ability to Veto Parents’ Choice of School

by Alec Torres

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice filed a proposal to oversee Louisiana’s school-choice program. The proposal, if accepted, would give the DOJ the ability to veto scholarships given to children, which allow them to attend a school of their choice.

In November, the DOJ dropped its injunction against Louisiana’s school voucher program after failing to produce documents to prove that the program impeded the federally mandated desegregation process. However, in lieu of the injunction, the DOJ instead filed a proposal to oversee the program, requesting that the federal government have 45 days to review detailed information about all scholarship applicants — including their race and the race-makeup of the voucher schools they wish to attend — before the applicants are awarded their school vouchers. During that period, the federal government could veto any scholarship if they determined that it would unacceptably change the racial balance of the school the student was leaving or going to.

Most students who receive school vouchers in Louisiana are low- and middle-income minority students who, without the voucher, would be relegated to failing public schools.

Louisiana’s governor, Bobby Jindal, responded to the DOJ proposal in a statement:

President Obama’s Department of Justice is continuing its attempt to red-tape and regulate the Louisiana Scholarship Program to death.  The Department’s request for a 45-day review period for every scholarship award shows the Justice Department believes bureaucrats in Washington know better than Louisiana parents. 

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.  The federal government’s new request is a frightening overreach of the federal government and shows it knows no bounds.

President Obama’s Department of Justice has admitted it cannot prove that Louisiana school choice is violating desegregation efforts, yet it continues to seek the ability to tell a parent their child cannot escape a failing school because their child is not the ‘right’ race.

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.

The State of Louisiana issued a counter-filing, offering to share relevant information but contending that it would not “cede its sovereign authority over the Scholarship program or the public schools.”

Following the break is a list of the information the DOJ wishes the state to provide about each school-voucher applicant:

1. Name

2. Student ID number

3. Address

4. Grade

5. Race

6. School applicant attends in current school year, if any

7. Louisiana School Performance Score (letter grade) for school in (6), above, if applicable

8. Public school district of the school in (6), if applicable

9. District public school applicant would be assigned to attend for the upcoming school year if applicant does not receive a voucher

10. Louisiana School Performance Score (letter grade) for school in (9), above

11. Student enrollment in the school in (9), above, for the current school year, by race

12. Public school district for (9), above

13. Student enrollment in the public school district in (12), above, for the current school year, by race

14. Whether applicant is attending a voucher school during the current school year, and if so, the name of the voucher school

15. The list of voucher schools, in order of stated preference, identified on the student’s application form

16. Whether the State determined that the applicant failed to meet the criteria for participation in the voucher program

17. Reason for determination that the applicant failed to meet the criteria for participation in the voucher program, if applicable

18. Reason, if any, for preference in proposed award of voucher (e.g., sibling)

19. School to which the State intends to assign the applicant through the Voucher Program (“proposed voucher school”) 

20. Student enrollment of the proposed voucher school in (19), for the current school year, by race

Via CATO.