West Virginia Supreme Court overturns lower court to uphold school choice program

Official portrait of the 2022 Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. April 13, 2022. (J. Alex Wilson – Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia)

On Thursday the West Virginia Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling and lifted an injunction against the state’s Hope Scholarship Program. The justices sided in favor of the program 3-2.

The Hope Scholarship program is West Virginia’s school voucher system. It would allow students to use state money at a private school or even for online education. In West Virginia that equates to a little over $4,000 per year, per student.

Critics of the program say it would divert much-needed money away from traditional public schools. Proponents say that it gives parents more choice in their child’s education and allows them to find the best fit.

The program was created back in 2021 but back in July, the program was ruled unconstitutional by a lower court judge on the grounds of the state’s duty to provide “a thorough and efficient system of free schools” per the state constitution. That decision put an injunction on the program. Thursday’s decision overruled the previous one and cleared the way for the initiative to continue.

West Virginia joins Arizona in securing recent victories for school voucher programs which are still controversial but growing in popularity and interest.

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