Parents, student aid agencies seeking answers after court's scholarship ruling
The two scholarship organizations the state approved to dole out the money say they will proceed with granting scholarships to students who plan to attend non-religious schools if a court doesn’t put the decision on hold until the state Supreme Court hears a promised appeal from the state Attorney General’s Office.
Nichols, who pays more than $12,000 in yearly tuition to Bishop Guertin High School, said she was “furious” with the judge’s decision.
Nichols applied to The Network for Educational Opportunity in Concord, a scholarship organization that raised about $250,000 for scholarships from 10 businesses, including about $120,000 in the final week before last week’s deadline, said Executive Director Kate Baker.
She said 1,018 students applied for scholarships and she estimated about three-quarters could be tied to religious schools. Baker said a child’s school choice and the cost of tuition are not factored into the decision-making practice.
The average values of all scholarships awarded by a scholarship organization can’t exceed $2,500.
“Absent a stay of the Court’s decision, we will therefore be required by the tight calendar requirements of this new law and this very restrictive decision to limit our upcoming awards to individuals who are not exercising their rights to take advantage of one of the many fine programs offered in NH by religiously affiliated schools,” said a statement released Wednesday.
“It’s a complicated question and one of first impression for New Hampshire, so it makes sense for the New Hampshire Supreme Court to weigh in on these issues,” Head said.
“Our organization is founded on faith and we intend to support faith-based schools,” she said.
In a statement released after the court decision, the New Hampshire Democratic Party called the ruling “a victory for local schools, public education in New Hampshire, as well as Granite State students and their parents.”
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