CONCORD, NH (AP) – The president of one of New Hampshire’s teachers’ unions is suing to prevent public money from being spent to fund private schools through the Education Freedom Account program.
The lawsuit in Merrimack County Superior Court this week seeks an injunction to stop the coupon-like program that began last year, alleging it violates the New Hampshire Constitution.
Deb Howes, president of the American Federation of Teachers New Hampshire, said the program violates the constitution because money from the New Hampshire Education Trust Fund is earmarked specifically for public education and cannot be used for private purposes.
“The state specifically earmarked this money for public education. Instead, the state is stealing public school students in plain sight to pay for its private voucher program,” she said in a statement.
Senate President Jeb Bradley, a Republican from Wolfeboro, accused the union of trying to block a successful program that helps low-income students “get the best education possible.”
Enrollment roughly doubled this fall, with 3,025 New Hampshire students qualifying for nearly $14.7 million in scholarships this school year, according to state officials.
The New Hampshire program is open to all private schools, including religious schools.
Neighboring states of Maine and Vermont have also opened their private tuition programs to religious schools.
The US Supreme Court ruled in June that Maine should not exclude religious schools from its program, which offers private education grants to students living in towns without a public school. Earlier this month, the Vermont Agency of Education and several school districts settled lawsuits over similar policies.
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