The state Department of Education released its full listing of private schools that have been approved to participate in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s statewide voucher program for low-income students who attend C,D, or F graded schools. In Acadiana, only nine schools in eight parishes have signed on, with five of those coming from Lafayette Parish.

According to a press release from LDOE, eligible children must have been enrolled in a C,D or F rated public school during the 2011-2012 school year, “unless a student is entering kindergarten for the first time in the 2012-2013 school year:” 
Students must also be residents of Louisiana and meet income eligibility requirements (family income in 2011 cannot exceed 250% of the federal poverty guidelines).

For the 2012-2013 school year, 125 schools from 33 parishes across the state, offering a total of approximately 7,450 seats, have qualified to participate in the program.  More than 2,300 offers have already been made to students in New Orleans, leaving approximately 5,150 seats available at schools statewide that will be accepting applications over the next six weeks.

The Louisiana Scholarship Program is available to all eligible students; however, there are a limited number of openings in nonpublic and high-performing public schools. The LDOE will attempt to place as many applicants as possible in their preferred school choice; if the number of applicants exceeds the number of seats available in a specific school and grade level, scholarships seats will be awarded through an unbiased lottery process.  All applicants will be notified of the status of the application no later than Tuesday, July 31.
The five private schools in Lafayette Parish taking voucher students next year are Lafayette Christian Academy, John Paul the Great Academy, Immaculate Heart of Mary School, Holy Family Christian School and Gethsemane Christian Academy. That’s in a district where 23 of the 43 schools operating under the Lafayette Parish School System are rated C, D or F.

The voucher program also applies to students who wish to transfer to participating high-performing public schools, of which only one in Acadiana has opted in: Park Vista Elementary School in Opelousas.

Speaking with The Independent in a phone interview in February, Ascension Episcopal School Headmaster Lee Cox said Ascension was very interested in participating in the voucher program — until The Independent revealed during the interview that participating private schools would be prohibited from using a selective admissions process for voucher students.

“One of the things the independent school will not give up is its right to choose and select the students who are going to attend,” Cox said in February.

Below is a listing of participating schools in Acadiana:
Acadia - 0
Evangeline - 0
Iberia - 0
Lafayette - 5: Lafayette Christian Academy, John Paul the Great Academy, Immaculate Heart of Mary School, Holy Family Catholic School, Gethsemane Christian Academy
St. Landry - 2: Park Vista Elementary , Family Worship Christian Academy
St. Martin - 0
St. Mary - 1: Central Catholic High in Morgan City
Vermilion - 0

Visit the state’s scholarship program website for more information.

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