Judge Blocks Massive School Choice Law In West Virginia

A school voucher law set to be used this upcoming school year by over 3,000 students was just blocked by a judge in state court.

By Erika Hanson | Published

Republican Candidate Wants To Make School Choice A Reality For Pennsylvania Families

school voucher law

The first full week of July proved to be monumental for school choice in America. School choice, or the belief that student tax dollars should follow the student despite which type of schooling families choose, has been advocated by more and more families across political parties. As support for this grows, more states continue to pass laws making it a reality. Just yesterday, Arizona made history, by making universal school choice vouchers available to every student in the state without any stipulations. But at the same time, a similar law was also blocked by a judge in West Virginia this week, as a major defeat for the new school voucher law. 

ABC News reported that the school choice voucher law that was set to go into effect at the beginning of the upcoming school year was just blocked by a judge in the state’s capital. Signed into law by the state’s Republican Gov. Jim Justice last year, it was enacted to allow tax dollars to travel with the student. These funds would have been available for families to pay for private school tuition, homeschooling expenses, and other educational fees. 

While not quite universal like the newly signed law in Arizona, West Virginia’s would-be school voucher law would have opened up school choice to many families in the Mountain State. Officially known as the Hope Scholarship voucher program, it wasn’t available to access if students were already homeschooled or enrolled in a private institute previously. However, new students would be able to access the funds. 

Just as the Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge, Joanna Tabit ruled the school voucher law unconstitutional, saying it violates the state’s constitution, 3,000 students within the state were already approved for the program. Now those families will either have to shell out the extra cash themselves or scramble to enroll in school elsewhere in the short period before the upcoming school year begins. Given the circumstances, many lawmakers lambasted the decision. 

State Treasurer, Riley Moore, who serves as the chairman of the school voucher law’s scholarship board pledged to appeal the decision. Asserting that the program did not violate the constitution, he added that school choice was something West Virginia parents fought for, backing the law as a way to serve families and their right to choose an education that best suits their children’s needs. What’s more, the decision now leaves thousands of families scrambling for an alternative. 

Even opposers of the school voucher law affirmed how troubling the decision was to be made at seemingly the last minute. Democratic state Sen. Richard Lindsay addressed the families who will be affected but still stood firm on his belief that it was the right decision to be made. Furthermore, he noted how the school voucher law would likely lead to massive public school closures in the state. 

school voucher law

For those celebrating the victory for school choice in Arizona this week, this news should serve as an ominous warning. Even in Arizona, groups are already pledging to file suit against the school voucher law. If things play out similarly as they have in West Virginia, school choice may not become a universal reality after all.