Nearly 600 Alabama businesses and individuals are getting state tax credits by contributing to private school scholarship programs.
The tax credits were included in the Alabama Accountability Act that the Legislature passed in February. State Revenue Department spokeswoman Carla Snellgrove says that 582 donors have given $19.5 million to organizations set up under the new law to provide scholarships to students who move from failing public schools to participating private schools.
The Alabama Supreme Court has changed some of the wording its recent ruling tossing out a lawsuit against the Alabama Accountability Act, but it didn't change the result.
On Sept. 20, the state's highest court blocked a lawsuit that members of the Alabama Education Association filed against four legislators to challenge the new law. Even though the legislators won, they asked the court to reconsider part of the ruling that said the Accountability Act appropriated public funds.
Alabama's attorney general is telling a federal judge that blocking the new Alabama Accountability Act won't help students in failing public schools.
Attorney General Luther Strange is trying to get U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of eight students in failing schools.
The suit challenges the law on equal protection grounds, saying the law's transfer provisions aren't open to the students because there aren't any non-failing public schools or private schools nearby that will accept transfers.
State attorneys are asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center seeking to block a new state law allowing students to transfer from failing schools.
The state attorney general's staff filed papers saying the plaintiffs lacked legal standing and failed to state a valid equal protection claim. In an order Monday, U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins set a schedule for each side to file briefs, with the last brief due on Oct. 21.
An Alabama Democrat says the Accountability Act has failed and is asking lawmakers to divert funding intended for tax credits to another educational program.
House Minority Leader Craig Ford, of Gadsden, said Thursday that he'd like to see the state reallocate $40 million meant for tax credits under the legislation used instead to expand the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative.
State lawmakers and education officials have filed a state lawsuit to have the Alabama Accountability Act ruled unconstitutional.
The Montgomery Advertiser reported Wednesday (http://on.mgmadv.com/15yhreh) that the suit was filed on behalf of Democratic state Sen. Quinton Ross of Montgomery, Lowndes County schools Superintendent Daniel Boyd and Alabama Education Association president Anita Gibson.
Alabama's public schools aren't seeing an exodus of students taking advantage of private school tax credits.
State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice told the state school board Thursday that preliminary survey data shows 51 students have used the new Alabama Accountability Act to transfer from a failing public school to a private school.
He told AL.com that not all school systems have responded to a department survey, but he doesn't expect the figure to increase much because the state's largest systems have responded.
Gov. Robert Bentley says the Alabama Accountability Act is designed to help students in all public schools.
The governor spoke out Monday after the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal court suit seeking to block the law. The suit says some impoverished students can't access part of the law providing tax credits for families that move their children from failing public schools to private schools.
Bentley says another portion of the law gives those failing schools the flexibility to make changes and improve.
Alabama's Department of Revenue says the state's new private school tax credits don't apply to students who are already in private schools, even though they are zoned for a failing public school.
The department has been developing regulations to implement the Alabama Accountability Act, which the governor signed into law in March. State Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee said Tuesday the law is clear that the tax credits are to offset the cost of transferring students out of failing public schools, and it starts with the semester beginning in August.
Seventy-eight Alabama schools from both urban and rural areas are on the state's list of schools that are failing under a new law.
The list released Tuesday includes many schools from the state's Black Belt region and city or county systems around Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery.
Parents who want to remove their children from the schools and send them to better ones can receive tax credits under the Alabama Accountability Act, passed by the state's Republican-controlled Legislature this year.