by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Three families that benefit from North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship program hope to intervene in a lawsuit challenging that program.
The Institute for Justice is working with the parents. IJ successfully defended Opportunity Scholarships against legal attacks from the education establishment in 2015. Now the group is working against a new lawsuit spearheaded by the N.C. Association of Educators, the state chapter of a national teachers union.
IJ discusses its latest efforts in a news release:
By moving to formally intervene in the lawsuit, the parents seek to ensure that the voice of the thousands of low-income families that rely on the scholarship are heard as the lawsuit proceeds through the courts.
“The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled five years ago that the OSP is constitutional and serves a valid public purpose, namely the education of North Carolina’s children,” IJ Senior Attorney Tim Keller said. “Parents, not government, should be able to choose the school that will best meet their children’s educational needs.”
Defending the program are parents Janet Nuun, Christopher and Nichole Peedin, and Katrina Powers. They are using the OSP to send their children to St. Mary Catholic School in Goldsboro, Brookstone Schools in Charlotte, and the nonreligious The School of Hope in Fayetteville. The lawsuit against the OSP threatens all of their children’s education plans, no matter what kind of school they attend.
Janet Nunn, a parent-intervenor in the lawsuit, uses the OSP for her granddaughter, Nariah. Nariah was born two months prematurely, spending more time in the hospital than most children. By the end of the first grade in her local public school, Nariah was behind academically.
Janet thought Nariah should repeat the first grade rather than fall behind even more, but Nariah’s assigned public school wanted to socially promote Nariah despite her clear lack of readiness. Disillusioned with the public school’s apparent disinterest in Nariah’s academic development, Janet applied for an OSP, which she used to enroll Nariah at Victory Christian School. Nariah thrived there. …
… Parent-intervenor Katrina Powers’s story exemplifies why school choice is so important. Katrina’s older two daughters are attending public school, and her youngest daughter, Teagyn, is a child with high-functioning autism who struggled in her government-zoned public school.