EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Utah teachers union files lawsuit against scholarship/voucher program

May 29, 2024, 3:11 PM | Updated: May 30, 2024, 9:13 am

Utah Education Association President Renée Pinkney speaks at a press conference near the Matheson ...

Utah Education Association President Renée Pinkney speaks at a press conference near the Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 29, 2024. The UEA is announcing a lawsuit over the state's voucher program. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY —  The Utah Education Association has filed a lawsuit against the state to prevent the “Utah Education Fits All” scholarship/voucher program from going forward this year.

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The UEA announced the lawsuit Wednesday on the steps of the Third District Court in Salt Lake City.

They claim the program violates the Utah Constitution by, among other things, diverting taxpayer money to private schools.

KTAR News on Arizona’s education voucher program.

 

According to the bill’s description, the state was expected to budget $82.5 million in 2024 for the program.

“I’ve opposed vouchers, tuition tax credits, for the last almost 20 years,” said lead UEA attorney Kass Harstad. “I feel they take away money for the public education system.”

The lawsuit lists Gov. Cox, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, and the Alliance for Choice in Education as defendants.

“The voucher program diverts funds from already under-funded public schools where 90% of our children learn,” said UEA President Renee Pinkney.

Reaction to the lawsuit over Utah scholarship/voucher program

By Wednesday afternoon, the Utah Education Fits All parent advocacy organization released a statement.

They called the lawsuit “noisy activism.”

 

They said it’s a “shameful attempt to strip away education options from students and families in Utah.”

“Utah families who have been awarded this scholarship should continue to celebrate and plan for the new school year,” the statement read. 

Utah Senate President Stuart Adams also released a statement about the lawsuit.

“We learned during COVID that parents needed more options for their kids. The Utah Fits All Scholarship expands education opportunities to include additional educational paths for parents to use their taxpayer money to select what is best for their kids.”

Utah lawmakers passed HB215, Funding for Teacher Salaries and Optional Education Opportunities, during the 2023 Utah Legislative Session.

Beginning in the 2024-2025 school year, the program is expected to give$8,000 to families of K-12 students in Utah via an education savings account. 

The money can go toward private school tuition, tutoring, testing fees and more.

Simone Seikaly contributed to this report.

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Utah teachers union files lawsuit against scholarship/voucher program