Hope Scholarship program ruled unconstitutional

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 11:31 AM EDT
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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A Kanawha County judge has rendered the state’s Hope Scholarship program unconstitutional, although a group that supports families that stand to benefit from the program vowed Wednesday morning that it would appeal the decision.

The ruling followed a hearing Wednesday morning before Kanawha Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit.

The judge granted a preliminary and permanent injunction against the Hope Scholarship, according to court officials and those involved with the case.

The decision, at least temporarily, halts a program that uses state education funds to pay for things like tuition, tutoring or even transportation for students leaving public school for private school options.

The State Treasurer’s Office announced in May more than 3,000 students had been approved for the program. The scholarship was to have provided nearly $4,300 for the 2022-23 school year. The amount was to vary each year.

Those opposing the program contend the scholarships divert funding away from the state’s public schools and will directly harm public school students.

Opponents also contend the program violates the state Constitution, which requires the state to provide a thorough and efficient system of free education.

The Institute for Justice vowed it would appeal the ruling Wednesday, according to spokesman Conor Beck. The group had intervened in defense of the program.

The West Virginia Treasurer website states if students are approved, the Hope scholarship would provide $4,298.60 for the 2022-23 school year. Scholarship amounts could vary year to year.

As of May 9, 2,402 Hope scholarships had been awarded, according to West Virginia Deputy Treasurer Jared Hunt.

The Hope Scholarship was the subject of an interview on WSAZ’s Journey Through Parenthood. To see that interview >>> click here.

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