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Public school parents sue over private school voucher law

January 20, 2022 GMT

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Three parents of children who attend public schools in West Virginia have filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s private school voucher law.

The suit filed Wednesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court contends the law violates the state Constitution and will siphon money away from public education, news outlets reported.

The law enacted last year creates a publicly funded savings accounts program called the Hope Scholarship that plans to begin accepting applications in March.

The legislation originated in the GOP-led House of Delegates and was sponsored by 11 Republicans. It was met by vehement opposition from Democrats and educators that the move would be costly, unnecessary and discriminatory.

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The law allows state money to be put into a special account that parents could then spend on private school tuition, homeschooling and other educational needs. It would allow private and homeschooled students to participate, pushing the potential cost to the state to more than $100 million annually. The state portion would be capped at $4,600 per child.

“The money that would be spent on the voucher program should go to our severely underfunded public schools,” said plaintiff Travis Beaver. “The money taken out of our schools will mean less special needs funding, less for gifted programs and robotics, fewer teachers and academic resources. We already lack funds, and that’s impacting my children and every child in our schools.”

The Institute for Justice said in a statement that it plans to fight the legal challenge.

“Parents, not the government, should be able to choose the school that will best meet their children’s educational needs,” attorney Joshua House said. “This program is constitutional, and the Institute for Justice stands ready to defend it.”

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This story corrects that the bill was enacted last year.