Hope Scholarship ruling appealed; West Virginia Supreme Court hears arguments

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – In July, a Kanawha County judge ruled that the Hope Scholarship program was unconstitutional. That ruling was later appealed which turned it over to the West Virginia Supreme Court. On Tuesday, West Virginia Supreme Court justices heard arguments about whether the ruling should be upheld.

“The program does not inhibit the provision of public schools. It does not use public school money. It does not infringe on anyone’s current access to a public school. There is no reason, on its face, that the Hope Scholarship Program can’t exist side-by-side with strong public schools,” said Joshua House, an attorney who represents families who were selected to benefit from the program.

“For each child using a voucher, it takes the money that the state would have appropriated to the system of free schools and pays it to the parents ESA. It is not providing vouchers in addition to public education. It is providing it instead of,” said Tamerlin Godley, an attorney who is an attorney for the State Board of Education and State Department of Education.

Inside the Capitol, there were even some parents of school children who sat in and listened to the hearing.

“The law is unconstitutional and it hurts students. It hurts my son and it hurts the students in the public schools of West Virginia,” said Wendy Peters.

“I hope the court understands that the goal is not to get rid of public schooling. We are not trying to take funding from them. The Hope Scholarship gave us an opportunity to make my daughter’s education flexible,” said Katie Switzer.

West Virginia Supreme Court justices will now deliberate and issue a ruling whenever they are ready.

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