Principal - May/June 2021 - 52

Legal

LESSONS

Vouching for Public Education
The flurry of activity stemming from a recent Supreme Court decision
makes it clear that your voice on the issues needs to be heard
BY M A R K PA IGE

A

ny time the Supreme Court
rules on an education
case, it will likely influence
education policy and, in
some way, your school. Some cases
are well known, especially if you
took an education law class-highly
recommended-in preparation for
your role in school leadership.
In this column, I want to call your
attention to a recent case decided
by the court: Espinoza v. Montana
Department of Revenue. Whether you
have heard of it or not, its repercussions are now playing out in a flurry
of school voucher legislation filed in
statehouses across the country.

*

52

M A Y / J U N E 2 0 2 1 * N A E S P. O R G

The drive for increased vouchers should be of concern
to public school leaders. While the topic might seem far
removed from your day-to-day duties, voucher programs
ultimately will impact your school.

The Court Case
In 2015, the state of Montana enacted a tax credit voucher
program: In exchange for donating money to independent
scholarship organizations, businesses and individuals received tax credits. The organizations then gave the donated
money to parents and students to help fund private-school
tuition and fees.
Because the state's constitution includes a " no-aid "
clause that prohibits public dollars from being sent to
religious schools, the Montana Department of Revenue
adopted a regulation limiting the voucher program to secular schools. Parents who sent their children to religious
schools challenged this limitation, filing suit in state and
then federal courts.
The Montana Supreme Court ruled to strike down the
entire program, but ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court


http://www.NAESP.ORG

Principal - May/June 2021

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