The law, passed in a controversial last-minute move by the state's Republican-controlled Legislature this year, provides a $3,500 tax credit for private school tuition or to offset the cost of transferring to a nonfailing public school. Tax breaks are also offered to people and businesses that donate to private scholarship funds to help students who can't otherwise afford to transfer.
Mariah Russaw, one of the plaintiffs, says she wants her grandson J.R., a seventh-grader, to finish high school. J.R. attends a school that is considered failing by state standards. Under the new law, the family is eligible for a tax credit to transfer to a better public school or approved private one.
Russaw says that's not really an option in their rural county. "
Lord have mercy. I would have to probably borrow money to get gas and I'd probably have to travel over 30 miles or longer, and I don't have the transportation to do that," Russaw says.