A perplexing federal lawsuit

American Press, Lake Charles, La.: The federal government’s decision to sue the state of Louisiana over its implementation of its school voucher program befuddles.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a petition in federal court to block the 2014-2015 vouch program, claiming that the program runs counter to the federal desegregation order that has been in place for decades in Louisiana.

The voucher program, initiated for the 2012-2013 school year, allows low-income students attending public schools graded C, D or F to use state money to transfer to private schools.

In its petition, the Justice Department says the state of Louisiana did not “consult with or obtain authorization” from federal courts overseeing the desegregation orders before handing out the vouchers. It points out that vouchers have been awarded to students in at least 22 school districts operating under school desegregation orders that date back at least 35 years.

State officials, though, point out that the desegregation order, in part, prevented state money from being used to enable white students to escape racially mixed schools.

State Superintendent of Education John White pointed out the irony, saying that the vast majority of students who are using vouchers are black.

(T)he federal government, in this case, appears to be lawyerin’ up the wrong tree.

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