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Judge blocks Hope Scholarship from going forward

Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Joanna Tabit heard arguments Wednesday in a case to block West Virginia's Hope Scholarship program. (Photo by Steven Allen Adams)

CHARLESTON – Parents hoping to use a portion of the West Virginia school aid formula for private or home school education for their children this coming school year were left in limbo Wednesday after a judge blocked the Hope Scholarship program.

After hearing arguments for and against motions Wednesday morning, Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Joanna Tabit granted a temporary and permanent injunction preventing further implementation of the Hope Scholarship program, calling the law “null and void.”

“In my view, the Legislature has violated its constitutional obligations regarding public education and funding by enacting…the Hope Scholarship,” Tabit said. “In my view, the plaintiffs and the public school system will suffer irreparable harm if the scholarship program and the legislation establishing it are not enjoined from being implemented.”

The Hope Scholarship gives parents the option to use a portion, $4,600, of their per-pupil expenditure from the state School Aid Formula for educational expenses, such as private-school tuition, home tutoring, learning aids and other acceptable expenses.

The State Treasurer’s Office is charged with managing the Hope Scholarship program, with the program beginning at the start of the 2022-2023 school year. More than 3,146 Hope Scholarship applications have been awarded since the May 15 deadline at a cost of about $14.5 million.

“I certainly plan to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia,” said State Treasurer Riley Moore in a statement. “This Program was authorized by the Legislature and we firmly believe it is constitutional. We will vigorously defend our implementation of this Program, which the people of West Virginia have clearly demonstrated they want, so that West Virginia families can choose the educational opportunities best suited for their children.”

Read more in the Thursday edition of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

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