WVa high court lifts blockage of public charter schools

February 24, 2022 GMT

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s Supreme Court has lifted a lower court’s temporary blockage of public charter schools.

The higher court issued the stay Wednesday. In December, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey granted a preliminary injunction sought by parents in a lawsuit filed against Gov. Jim Justice and leaders of the House of Delegates and state Senate.

Charter school implementation will continue under current law while broader legal issues are considered before the Supreme Court.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who had appealed Bailey’s ruling, said the stay will give already-approved charter schools the ability to prepare for the next school year and “prevents West Virginians from being deprived of the option to send their children to charter schools while this litigation moves forward.”

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim residents should be able to weigh in on any charter school established in their county. They are challenging the authority of the Professional Charter Schools Board, whose members are appointed by the governor.

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The board in November approved charter schools in Morgantown, Nitro and Jefferson County, along with two online charter schools.

Bailey had said the board’s authority to approve new charter schools without input from county voters was “contrary to the constitution of this state, and the petitioners have a right to seek redress of legislation that is contrary to the constitution.” She said the ruling was not about whether lawmakers had the authority to enact legislation allowing for charter schools.