Ind. court upholds broadest school voucher program

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana school voucher system is constitutional. That's the decision issued Tuesday morning by the state Supreme Court. The ruling written by Chief Justice Brent Dickson is a unanimous decision.

ONLINE EXTRA | Read the entire opinion

The decision says the legislature was within its authority to create a system that gives public school students vouchers so that they can attend private schools. It was handed down at mid-morning Tuesday and ends a legal fight that began in 2011. It says that private schools can receive indirect government benefits and that the direct beneficiaries of the voucher program are not the schools but those eligible families who are free to select which schools to attend.

State Representative Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) sponsored the bill that launched the voucher system.

"I'm excited for the kids of the state of Indiana," he said.  "I think we believed all along it's constitutional. We thought we'd done our homework and this just validates."

State School Superintendent Glenda Ritz opposes vouchers.

"We're disappointed," said aide John Barnes. "We're especially disappointed with it being a unanimous decision, but our biggest concern all along has been that we don't think that taxpayer money should be used for schools that don't have to serve all students."

The Statehouse has been the scene of rallies in recent weeks both for and against an expansion of the voucher system. Gov. Mike Pence issued a statement calling for expansion in light of the ruling. Indiana's school choice system is already the fastest growing voucher program in the country.

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