In Defense of ESAs

February 13, 2020 4:41PM

Current Status of Lawsuit: The TN Supreme Court held that Plaintiffs Davidson and Shelby Counties had standing to bring their Home Rule Amendment claim (challenging the constitutionality of the ESA program) and affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals with respect to the issue of standing. But the Court also held that the ESA Act does not implicate the Home Rule Amendment such that the Act is not rendered unconstitutional by the Amendment, and reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals with respect to the constitutionality of the program. The judgment of the trial court with respect to Plaintiffs’ claim under the Home Rule Amendment was vacated, and the case was remanded to the trial court for entry of a judgment dismissing that claim, for further proceedings consistent with this opinion, and for consideration of Plaintiffs’ remaining claims. Those claims, including Equal Protection claims, will now proceed to a panel of three judges, one each from the East, West, and Middle Grand Divisions. Beacon will continue to work with the State and the Institute for Justice to defend the ESA program and the rights of parents who need better options for their kids.

The Beacon Center of Tennessee intervened in Mayor Cooper’s Education Savings Accounts (ESA) lawsuit on behalf of Nashville families. Beacon is defending Nashville mother Star Brumfield, whose children would benefit from the recently enacted program.

Star Brumfield is a single parent, raising six school-aged children. Her 11-year old child, in particular, is an exceptionally bright 6th grader in a Nashville public school but is frustrated by the education he is receiving. After touring Lighthouse, Star became convinced that the learning environment and individual teacher’s attention at Lighthouse would be a much better fit for him. It was at her tour of Lighthouse that she learned of the ESA program. She also learned that Lighthouse would participate, and the ESA would fully cover the cost of her child’s tuition. Elated by this opportunity, Star immediately began the process of enrolling her child at Lighthouse in the Fall of 2020. Star has another child who would benefit too who she would love to send, but she is unfortunately not eligible because she currently homeschooled. Without the ESA, she simply could not afford the tuition and her child would be forced to remain at his current school where he would not be getting the same opportunity to achieve his full potential.

The case is set to determine Metro Nashville’s summary judgment, the McEwan plaintiffs Motion for a Temporary Injunction, and the Parents Motion for Judgment on the pleadings.


Motion to Intervene

Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Joint Brief of Intervenor-Defendants Bah, Diallo, Brumfield, and Davis in Support of Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Temporary Injunction

Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings – McEwen

Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings – Metro

Motion for Summary Judgment – Metro

Parent’s Response in Opposition to Metro’s Motion for Summary Judgment

Metro’s response to the Motion for Judgment

Metro’s response to the Motion to Dismiss

Reply in Support of Parents’ Motions for Judgment on the Pleadings

Chancellor’s Order granting Motion for Summary Judgment

Chancellor’s Order denying Motion for Summary judgment

Parents Application for Interlocutory Appeal

 Metro’s response in opposition to our Interlocutory Appeal

Petition for the Supreme Court to Accept Jurisdiction

Metro’s response to Parents Petition for Supreme Court to Accept Jurisdiction

Parents’ Appeal Brief

Metro’s Appellate Brief

Joint Reply Brief of Intervenor Defendants

Court of Appeals Opinion

Parents application to the Supreme Court

Parents Supreme Court brief

Metro response to Parents’ Supreme Court Petition

Metro’s Supreme Court Brief

Supreme Court Order ruling for the State and Parents on Plaintiffs’ Home Rule Constitutional Claim

The Legal Team 

Justin Owen is President and CEO of the Beacon Center.