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Court lifts injunction on school vouchers program in Tennessee, allowing it to begin immediately

Gov. Bill Lee said the program would move forward, with resources available for parents soon.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Tennessee State Chancery Court has vacated an injunction on the Republican Gov. Bill Lee's Education Savings Account (ESA) program, allowing it to move forward.

“Today the court removed the final roadblock to getting Memphis and Nashville families additional options for high-quality education,” said Gov. Lee in a statement Wednesday. “Starting today, we will work to help eligible parents enroll this school year, as we ensure Tennessee families have the opportunity to choose the school that they believe is best for their child.”

Gov. Lee said school voucher resources will be available online for parents in the coming days.

Under the law, the voucher program would apply only to Nashville and Shelby County, which includes Memphis, the areas with the lowest performing schools and regions with Democratic political strongholds who opposed the measure.

Back in May, Tennessee's Supreme Court ruled the school voucher program does not violate the state's constitution, clearing the biggest hurdle for the program which would let families use taxpayer dollars on private schools.

In Wednesday’s ruling lifting the injunction, the Chancery Court also the home rule amendment claim was dismissed. The Tennessee Supreme Court's 3-2 decision overturned several lower court rulings that had previously determined the program violated the Tennessee Constitution’s “home rule,” which said the Legislature can’t pass measures singling out individual counties without local support.

Known as education savings accounts, the program would allow eligible Tennessee families to use up to $7,000 in public tax dollars on private schooling tuition and other pre-approved expenses. The goal was to enroll up to 5,000 students the first year, potentially reaching as many as 15,000 students in its fifth year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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