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School Choice Backers Want Legislation to Compel More Districts to Allow Open Enrollment

a photo of high school students
Dan Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Students in the hallway of Worthington Kilbourne High School near Columbus.

A Christian conservative group is among those advocating for school choice, and they say many good suburban schools throughout Ohio are not allowing open enrollment. They are working to get a bill that would change that.

The Buckeye Institute’s Greg Lawson says current law allows people to enroll their kids in neighboring public school districts. But he says many high-quality, suburban schools are not admitting students outside their attendance boundaries.

"About 80% of school districts in Ohio allow complete open enrollment," Lawson says.

Aaron Baer with Citizens for Christian Virtue says those that don’t, should.

“It’s wrong for these predominately white suburban school districts to be blocking other children from being able to enroll there,” Baer says.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima), a longtime supporter of school choice, says passing a bill that would require more suburban school districts to take part in open enrollment would be a challenge.

“To try to force those high wealth school districts into an open enrollment situation is pretty difficult," Huffman says.

Huffman says there isn’t a bill yet. But he says advocates for school choice are talking with lawmakers to find a sponsor for it. Baer says he expects a bill could be coming in a couple of months.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.