High court upholds Accountability Act

Published 11:09 pm Monday, March 2, 2015

The Alabama Supreme Court just announced late Monday its decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA).

The Alabama Legislature passed the Alabama Accountability Act in 2013. The program allows tax-deductible contributions toward scholarships which allow students in failing schools to attend private schools. The act drew criticism both for the manner in which it was passed, and because it did not define “failing.”

Contributions are made to the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund, which was formed to implement this new law. Former Gov. Bob Riley chairs the board.

Alabama Education Association President Anita Gibson, state Sen. Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery and Lowndes County School Superintendent Daniel Boyd filed the lawsuit challenging the Accountability Act.

In May of 2014, Montgomery County Circuit Judge Gene Reese’s ruled that the AAA was in violation of the Alabama constitutional due to legislative procedure.

Monday’s Supreme Court decision overturned that ruling.

The Accountability Act was intended to allow local school systems to enter flexibility contracts with the state to obtain waivers from some laws and policies.

It passed both houses with minor differences.

Republicans on a conference committee added a private school scholarship program and a provision to allow parents with children zoned for failing schools to get a tax credit for transferring their child to another school. The bill, which was then tripled in size, was quickly passed by the Republican majorities in both houses that night.