Parent talks about Hope Scholarship being ruled unconstitutional
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A program meant to provide scholarships to more than 3,000 West Virginia families has been ruled unconstitutional by a Kanawha County judge.
The Hope Scholarship program is meant to use state education funds to pay for things like tuition, tutoring, or even transportation for students leaving public school for private school options.
For parents like Katie Switzer, this is the decision she was hoping to hear.
“My daughter has special needs,” Switzer said. “She needs these special programs and taking the Hope Scholarship away for her with just weeks of notice before we were able to access the stuff that we had planned on in the fall, it is devastating.”
Switzer said they were planning to use the Hope Scholarship to send her daughter Ruth to a charter school that accommodates her apraxia. Switzer said public school doesn’t offer the resources her daughter needs.
“They don’t offer any part-time program for someone like my daughter that needs to do therapy outside of schooling,” she said.
Despite the Hope Scholarship being ruled unconstitutional, there are already plans to appeal.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he doesn’t agree with the ruling and said competition is needed for West Virginia schools to thrive.
“We think that the Hope Scholarship is a law designed to enhance educational options for our kids and our families is absolutely consistent with the Constitution,” Morrisey said. “So we’re prepared to vigorously contest this.”
However, not everyone feels this way. Chair of the West Virginia Democratic Party Mike Pushkin said he agrees with the court’s ruling and said the Hope Scholarship is unconstitutional.
“I think that the school voucher system, as enacted by the Republican leadership in the legislature was very irresponsible,” he said. “It put public funds meant for our public schools, into private accounts with absolutely zero accountability.”
Morrisey said they’re going to appeal the decision as soon as they’re able, but it’s not yet clear when that appeal will be heard.
The Hope Scholarship legislation was originally signed by Gov. Jim Justice in March 2021.
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