Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper continues to push back against Republican plans that would reduce funding for public education and expand private school vouchers so anyone – even a millionaire – can get taxpayer money for their children’s private school tuition.
“It’s bad when taxpayer dollars are spent on private schools that have no accountability, but it’s even worse when public schools are being dramatically short changed at the same time,” Cooper said in a news release. “Instead of thousands of dollars sent to millionaires to keep their kids in private schools, let’s pay our teachers what they deserve and invest in our public schools.”
Recently, multiple news stories have raised questions about possible misconduct and criminal activity at private schools that participate in the voucher program:
♦ In Johnston County, a private school was ordered to return over $37,000 in voucher funding that it had received for students who had not attended or withdrawn from the school. The school was also deemed ineligible from receiving any further voucher funding for students by the State Education Assistance Authority (SEAA). The state also halted distribution of about $300,000 that would have gone to the private school for the spring 2023 semester and referred the matter to the State Bureau of Investigation for further review.
♦ In Mecklenburg County, a reporter set out to visit a private school that received more vouchers than enrolled students but could not locate the school itself and discovered numerous different addresses listed in the state’s private school directory and online. SEAA is now looking into the institution as well.
♦ News coverage has highlighted a recent analysis that found over 60 instances where private schools across the state received voucher funding for more students than the total number of students that were reportedly enrolled at the school. To be eligible to receive voucher funding, a private school must be registered with the Department of Administration’s Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE). However, reporting requirements for private schools only include a responsibility to notify DNPE when they open and close, weakening the ability to hold these institutions accountable as they receive taxpayer dollars.
Rather than using taxpayer dollars to fund private schools that can choose who they accept and are unaccountable to the public, Cooper said legislators should invest in North Carolina’s future by fully funding public schools.
The governor encourages North Carolinians to visit governor.nc.gov to learn more and contact their legislators to ask them to protect public schools.