Private school voucher program shut down, funds being taken back

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Many low-income families who were planning to send their kids to private school this year, afforded by state vouchers, will have to make other plans.

Today a Superior Court judge struck down the "Opportunity Scholarships" put in place by state funding. The scholarships were awarded to children in low-income families to enable them greater educational opportunities they otherwise could not afford. Many of the scholarship recipients, including 40 at Tri-City Christian Academy in High Point, had already started classes.

One parent, Stephanie Neal-Gillett with three boys at Tri-City, says she feels as if she and her sons have been cheated.

"Never in my wildest imagination I would've thought that I would be at this point where I'd have to put my children down and tell them the opportunity has been pulled up from under you," she said.

Neal-Gillett says this situation is worsened because her children started school a week ago and have already fallen in love with their new campus. She says paying out of pocket, now that the scholarship has been revoked, is not an option.

"I have no idea where will I turn from here?" she said. "What will I do next?"

Neal-Gillett says her children were each awarded the maximum allotment from the state's scholarship, $4,200. She says her church covered the rest of the tuition, a little more than $1,000 per child.

In total, around $730,000 has already been given out to scholarship recipients statewide. The Attorney General will be responsible for redeeming those funds.