MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Education Association has filed a new suit seeking to overturn a law providing private school tax credits.
The suit filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court raises the same issues as the first, including whether the Legislature violated its own rules and the open meetings law when it passed the legislation Feb. 29. The Alabama Supreme Court dismissed AEA's first suit because it was filed before the governor signed the legislation into law. Now that the bill is law, AEA is again suing four Republican legislators who helped prepare the legislation.
On Wednesday, the defendants asked Circuit Judge Gene Reese to dismiss the suit on grounds that the legislators have immunity during a legislative session.
The new law provides tax credits to parents who choose to send their children to private school rather than a public school rated as failing. It also allows schools to try different approaches to education by asking the state school board for flexibility in complying with state education laws.
The legislation started out solely as a flexibility bill, but got tripled in size by a legislative conference committee to include the tax credits. Republicans pushed it through the GOP-led House and Senate over opposition from Democrats.
AEA argues that the law will drain money from public education because the tax credits come from taxes set aside for education. "AEA will never retreat in our battle to overcome this law, which hurts every public school in the state just to pay for some to go to private school," AEA Executive Secretary Henry Mabry said in a statement to teachers.
One of the law's supporters, House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, said AEA "is draining taxpayer dollars to fight against school choice for parents of children stuck in failing schools across the state, and it is wasting the union dues of hardworking teachers on a lawsuit the state court tossed out last week."
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