Parents, Students Await SCOFLA Decision on School Vouchers

By: Victoria Langley
By: Victoria Langley

Some 2,000 parents and children marched to the Florida Supreme Court to show how much Florida’s voucher programs mean to their families.

They gathered in the shadow of the state Capitol across the street. The marchers hope the high court will uphold the constitutionality of Florida’s Opportunity Scholarships.

Cecilia Robinson’s two kids use the program to attend a private religious school. She prays it’s not taken away.

Cecilia says, "It would be a devastating act for me because I can’t afford to send them to school and it’s a blessing to have this scholarship.”

There are more than 30 busloads of parents and children here from all over the state, many from faith-based schools, all concerned that if Opportunity Scholarships fall at the Supreme Court, so will many other programs around Florida.

Melvin Coleman’s son is one of nearly 14,000 who uses a Mackay Scholarship. The vouchers for children with disabilities can also be used at a religious school.

Melvin says, "If these scholarships get shot down, it’s going to force a lot of kids back into a defective public school system."

But the issue is a divisive one. Parent Susan Watson is one of the plaintiffs who sued over the vouchers.

Susan says, "Diverting money away from the public school system only hurts all of our children."

The case likely won’t be decided for months. Supporters of the voucher program say as many as 200,000 students could be affected if the high court declares opportunity scholarships unconstitutional, and that doesn’t count students in the new state pre-k program, which will also be relying on religious schools.

Gov. Jeb Bush has not said if he'll appeal to the United States Supreme Court if it does not go through the Florida Supreme Court.


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