Metro Nashville pushes back on ruling that would allow school vouchers

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Posted at 6:48 PM, May 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 12:06:52-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro government officials said they filed a petition in court to push back on a ruling that would allow for education savings accounts to exist.

Wednesday morning, Mayor John Cooper and other state government officials held a press conference at Warner Elementary to discuss Metro's petition for the Tennessee Supreme Court to review its voucher ruling.

watch the press conference, held 10 a.m. Wednesday at Warner Elementary School:

Metro Nashville pushes back on ruling that would allow school vouchers

Back in mid-May, the Tennessee Supreme Court said vouchers were legal, which would mean Davidson County students would become eligible.

View the full petition here.

Enacted in 2019, the legislature established a program for students to receive money directly for their education rather than a public school system to pay for private education. During a five-year period, up to 15,000 students could become eligible for these educated savings accounts in the Metro Nashville Public School system, Shelby County Schools and the Achievement School District.

"Great public schools require consistent prioritization because our kids’ future is our most critical investment,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper said. “The state already provides Metro Nashville Public Schools far less funding per student than almost every other county in Tennessee, and now a state voucher program threatens to siphon off even more money away from improving public schools and into the hands of private schools. We hope the court will consider MNPS’ status as the public school system for both Nashville and Davidson County, and not allow the state to direct taxpayer money away from our schools without our consent."

Lower courts, including the Davidson County Chancery Court and the Tennessee Court of Appeals, previously ruled they weren't constitutional. That decision was appealed in 2021.

“Metro Nashville, through the Metro Council or its voters, has the legal right to say whether taxpayer funds should be spent on private schools,” said Wallace Dietz, director of law for Metro Nashville. “Our state constitution demands no less. We don’t believe the Court’s reasoning for allowing the state’s voucher program to proceed should apply to Nashville since we are a metropolitan government with a combined city and county school system."