Judge blocks West Virginia school voucher law

Jul 5, 2022, 11:50 PM | Updated: Jul 6, 2022, 1:03 pm

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A judge in West Virginia’s capital struck down a law on Wednesday that would have funneled state money into a program that incentivized families to pull their children out of K-12 public schools.

Immediately following the ruling, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said his office plans to appeal.

Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Joanna Tabit ruled that the Hope Scholarship voucher program, which would have been one of the most far-reaching school choice programs in the country, violates the state’s constitutional mandate to provide “a thorough and efficient system of free schools.”

Passed by the GOP-controlled state Legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Jim Justice last year, the law allows families to apply for state funding to support private school tuition, homeschooling fees and a wide range of other expenses.

Set to go into effect during the 2022-23 school year, more than 3,000 students had been approved to receive around $4,300 each during the program’s inaugural cycle.

Families could not receive the money if their children were already homeschooled or attending private school. To qualify, students had to have been enrolled in a West Virginia public school last year or set to begin kindergarten this upcoming school year.

In January, three parents filed a lawsuit saying the program incentivizes students to withdraw from public schools and drains funds from the public education system. The suit was supported by the West Virginia Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools.

Dale Lee, president of West Virginia’s largest educator’s union, said Wednesday that parents have the right to choose whether they want to home-school their children or send them to private schools. However, the state shouldn’t be using taxpayer dollars to fund that choice, he said.

“It is one thing to allow parents the choice of where to educate their children, but it is another matter entirely when we entice them away from our public schools with public money as the incentive,” he said.

State Treasurer Riley Moore, chairman of the Hope Scholarship Board, said he is “deeply disappointed” in Wednesday’s ruling and will support an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

“More than 3,100 West Virginia students were relying on having this funding in the fall, and now – at the last minute – they may not be able to get the educational services they want and need,” he said in a statement.

Moore said he and other state officials “firmly believe” the program is constitutional.

“We will vigorously defend our implementation of this Program, which the people of West Virginia have clearly demonstrated they want, so that West Virginia families can choose the educational opportunities best suited for their children,” he said.

Democratic state Sen. Richard Lindsay, who represents the Charleston metro area, said Wednesday he agrees with the ruling, but feels sad for the families who were granted the voucher and are now “in limbo because of a law that was constitutionally suspect or infirm from the beginning.”

“The HOPE voucher, left unchecked and unregulated, is extreme, unconstitutional and would ultimately lead to consolidation or closure of WV public schools,” he said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

The Amazon logo is pictured on Sept. 6, 2012, in Santa Monica, Calif. Amazon filed a lawsuit on Mon...
Haleluya Hadero, Associated Press

Amazon sues Washington’s labor agency over alleged hazards

Amazon has sued Washington state’s labor agency following disputes with regulators over citations and fines imposed on the company for worker safety issues.
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Chicago man found guilty in murder of 6 family members

CHICAGO (AP) — A jury on Wednesday guilty of first-degree murder in the 2016 slayings of six members of his family — including two young boys — inside their Chicago home in 2016. The jury deliberated for about a day before finding 28-year-old Diego Uribe Cruz guilty of all six counts of first-degree murder of […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Israel’s Netanyahu hospitalized weeks before election

JERUSALEM (AP) — Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was hospitalized Wednesday after feeling unwell during the Jewish fasting day of Yom Kippur. Israel’s public broadcaster Kan said Netanyahu, 72, was taken to Jerusalem’s Shaarei Tzedek hospital after feeling chest pains while attending synagogue services. Local media quoted the hospital as saying he underwent a […]
15 hours ago
FILE - People walk close to the border at Yesa's reservoir affected by drought, on a sunny summer d...
Associated Press

Climate change made summer drought 20 times more likely

Drought that stretched across three continents this summer — drying out large parts of Europe, the United States and China — was made 20 times more likely by climate change, according to a new study. Drought dried up major rivers, destroyed crops, sparked wildfire, threatened aquatic species and led to water restrictions in Europe. It […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Nicaragua charging exiled opponents’ relatives

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Exiled Nicaraguan economist Javier Álvarez received terrible news this week: his wife, daughter and son-in-law, jailed three weeks ago by the government of President Daniel Ortega, had been formally charged with serious crimes back in Nicaragua. Jeannine Horvilleur, 63, Ana Carolina Álvarez Horvilleur, 43, both of Nicaraguan and French nationality, as […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Greece: Sailboat with 100 migrants sinks in high winds

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A large-scale rescue operation was underway off a southern Greek island where a sailboat carrying up to 100 migrants sank in high winds late Wednesday, authorities said. The coast guard said its vessels, private boats and a rescue helicopter were involved in the effort off the coast of the island of […]
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Judge blocks West Virginia school voucher law