Judge To Rule On Vouchers' Legality Within 30 Days

Lawsuit: Vouchers Provide Public Money To Religious Institutions

An Indianapolis judge said Monday he'll decide within 30 days whether Indiana's sweeping new school voucher law violates the state's constitution.

Marion Superior Court Judge Michael Keele heard about two hours of arguments in a lawsuit filed by a group of teachers and religious leaders backed by the Indiana State Teachers Association.

The lawsuit claims the law enacted earlier this year violates the state constitution by providing public money to religious institutions.

"Anybody who'll reasonably think about it, I'm gonna give you money, but you can only give it to certain schools, it's simply circumventing, as our lawyer indicated, circumventing the Constitution, the intent of the Constitution," said ISTA President Nate Schnellenberger.

The state contends the voucher system is legal because the state isn't directly funding parochial schools. Instead, it gives scholarship vouchers to parents, who can choose where to use them. Attorneys liken that to using state-funded scholarships at religious colleges.

One plaintiff, whose three children receive vouchers, said going back to public school is simply not an option for them for a number of reasons.

"(We have) personal reasons of what I feel are not beneficial as far as education, and the certain environment that they're exposed to, whether that's drug activity, gang activity, limited education resources within the teacher's limits of what they can provide," said Heather Coffy.

Keele declined to block the law in August.

Indiana's voucher program is the nation's most expansive.

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