Waiting In Louisiana

Children are heading back to their classrooms across Louisiana. Parents have bought new school uniforms, notebooks and other back-to-school essentials. Children are looking forward to reuniting with their friends and share stories of what they did this summer.

That’s what’s happening for the majority of children.

But for a group of 442 children, who we will call the “wait listed,” this August tradition has been disrupted. In April their parents received notification that their children had been awarded scholarships to attend a private school of their choosing through the Louisiana Scholarship Program. The scholarship awards were contingent on funding.

Parents, like Nikesha Hudson and Ashleigh Bovia, are among the wait listed. They received letters at the end of the legislative session in July stating their children’s scholarships would not be awarded due to insufficient funding.

“These are families depended on our state to keep a promise,” said Ann Duplessis, president of the Louisiana Federation for Children. “They believed they had an opportunity to move their child out of a failing environment.”

Like parents across Louisiana, Nikesha and Ashleigh bought uniforms and their children were excited about attending their new schools.

Duplessis said their excitement has turned into disappointment. “A week before school is supposed to start their dreams are shattered. Not only the dreams of the parents who believed this could be the beginning of a way out, but of the kids.”

Wait-listed families fully expected their scholarship awards to be honored “and now most will certainly have to send their children to low performing public schools,” added Duplessis.

“Gov. John Bel Edwards and state lawmakers could have avoided this entire situation, if they would have provided just $2.5 million more in funding. They still have an opportunity to fix this.”

Listen to Ann Duplessis discusses the plight of wait-listed parents in this WWL-Radio interview: http://bit.ly/2aoYxgp