Judge Refuses to Block Indiana Vouchers Program

Published August 16, 2011

More than 2,800 students enrolled in the broadest voucher program in the nation may continue using vouchers while litigation against them pends, an Indiana judge ruled on Aug. 15. 

Marion County Judge Michael Keele denied a preliminary injunction requested by a group of teachers and religious leaders led by the Indiana State Teachers Association, a union. The coalition seeks to block the vouchers from going into effect this fall as part of a broad education reform agenda passed by the Republican-led statehouse and Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) in April and May 2011. 

The coalition’s lawsuit against the vouchers claims they violate the state constitution by giving public money to religious schools, thereby using state money to fund religion.

The vouchers are worth up to $4,500 for families at 150 percent of the federal poverty line–or $61,000 in annual income for a family of four. That makes about half the approximately 525,000 school-age kids in the state eligible for a voucher. The state has approved more than 250 private schools to participate in the program. Enrollment is capped this first year at 7,500 students, next year at 15,000 students, and the cap expires in year three. 

Keele only ruled against the request for a temporary block to the program. The case will go to trial in the state this fall. 

Information from the AP contributed to this report. Image by John Maxwell.