September 22, 2023
West Virginia Supreme Court docket overturns circuit courtroom’s determination to dam college alternative program

The West Virginia Supreme Court docket overturned a circuit courtroom’s determination to dam a faculty alternative program.

The West Virginia Supreme Court docket reversed a earlier circuit courtroom injunction on the Hope Scholarship Program, opening the door for households throughout the state to entry versatile instructional alternatives.

Again in July, Kanawha Circuit Choose Joanna Tabit shot down the scholarship program providing public cash for personal schooling, calling it unconstitutional.  


West Virginia Supreme Court docket overturns circuit courtroom’s determination to dam college alternative program

Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., speaks throughout a rally to advertise the significance of faculty alternative as a part of “Nationwide College Alternative Week,” in Russell Constructing on January 18, 2018. (Picture By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Name)
((Picture By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Name))

After a listening to that lasted a bit over an hour, Tabit in July dominated that the Hope Scholarship Program that gives state funds for college students leaving the general public college system violated the state Structure. The scholarship program was established after the state legislature handed a regulation in 2021. 

The plaintiff, who consisted of fogeys of scholars within the public college system, argued that this system violated the state Structure by diverting funding away from the general public schooling system.

Tabit discovered that the Hope Scholarship violated the state Structure’s Article XII, Part 1 obligation to offer “for an intensive and environment friendly system of free colleges.” 


Nevertheless, the West Virginia Supreme Court docket held that this system is certainly constitutional. 

West Virginia Legal professional Common Patrick Morrisey praised the state Supreme Court docket of Appeals’ determination Thursday, per a press launch from Morrissey’s workplace. Making the choice solely two days after the Legal professional Common’s Workplace introduced oral argument, the Supreme Court docket issued an expedited order Thursday afternoon “given the character of the constitutional issues at subject and the necessity to resolve the enchantment in an expedited method.” 

“Immediately’s order is an incredible victory for the hard-working households throughout West Virginia who deserve elevated choices for his or her kids’s particular person instructional wants,” Legal professional Common Morrisey mentioned. 

“It has at all times been my purpose to assist make our State first within the nation with regards to instructional alternatives for West Virginia’s youngsters. Immediately’s win will make an unbelievable distinction for hundreds of households throughout the State—the Hope Scholarship Act opens extra doorways for West Virginia college students whereas leaving public colleges with the funding and different sources they should stay robust. I’m pleased with our workplace’s work to defend this essential program and the rule of regulation.”

The Capitol Building Of West Virginia.

The Capitol Constructing Of West Virginia.

Due to this fact, this system can present cash to college students leaving the general public college system for both constitution, personal, non secular, or home-schooling. The justice’s reasoning will not be obtainable, however they mentioned “an in depth opinion” will observe the choice, in keeping with courtroom information.

Reacting to the information, senior fellow on the American Federation for Kids Corey DeAngelis instructed Fox Information Digital that “dad and mom are profitable and opponents of instructional freedom simply failed to dam college alternative in Arizona final week.”

“Now they did not entice youngsters in failing authorities colleges in West Virginia. These are large victories for college students, as these packages are the 2 most expansive schooling financial savings account initiatives within the nation. West Virginia dad and mom received the warfare enemies of instructional freedom waged on their kids. Now households will lastly be free to take their kids’s schooling {dollars} to the schooling suppliers of their selecting. Hopefully, extra states will observe West Virginia’s lead and empower households to decide on the college that greatest meets their kids’s wants and aligns with their values.”

Benefactors of the scholarship program obtain as much as $4,300 per yr to go away the general public college system. The funds might be used for a wide range of causes, akin to personal college tuition and costs, on-line schooling, schooling therapies, tutoring, and so on. Established in 2021, greater than 3,000 college students have been awarded the scholarship for 2022-23.


College alternative turned a salient subject after the COVID-19-induced lockdowns sparked a dialog on the scope of the federal government’s authority and the kind of content material that ought to be taught to kids from public college curricula.

Non-public colleges throughout the nation reported an uptick in enrollment over the previous two years, whereas public college enrollment declined on a nationwide scale. Between fall 2019 and fall 2020, complete public college enrollment dropped 3% nationwide, erasing a decade of regular progress, in keeping with the U.S. Division of Training. In the meantime, complete enrollment in unbiased personal colleges noticed a web progress of 1.7% between 2020 and 2022, NPR reported in December. 


Jim Justice, owner of the Greenbrier Resort, looks over the 18th green during the first round of the Greenbrier Classic on The Old White Course at the Greenbrier Resort on July 29, 2010, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.  

Jim Justice, proprietor of the Greenbrier Resort, appears to be like over the 18th inexperienced in the course of the first spherical of the Greenbrier Traditional on The Outdated White Course on the Greenbrier Resort on July 29, 2010, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.  
(Scott Halleran/Getty Photos)

Non-public college alternative, or offering all households with alternate options to the general public colleges they’re zoned for, might be expanded by way of a number of avenues on the state degree, together with college voucher packages, tax-credit scholarship packages, particular person tuition tax credit score packages and deductions, and Training Financial savings Accounts (ESAs). Constitution colleges, magnet colleges, and homeschooling are additionally types of college alternative packages.

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