Judge reviewing arguments over Ohio’s school voucher program

A group announces a lawsuit aimed at preventing Ohio public education money from going to private schools.
A group announces a lawsuit aimed at preventing Ohio public education money from going to private schools. [Daniel Konik / Statehouse News Bureau]
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A Franklin County judge is reviewing the many arguments filed in a court case against Ohio’s school voucher system, known as EdChoice.

The EdChoice Scholarship Program awards publicly funded scholarships to students who want to go to private schools that accept those vouchers.

A coalition of more than 100 school districts, along with 20 different education and community groups, have filed motions in court to argue against the voucher program.

The groups said the EdChoice program is a violation of the state constitution, citing the section related to school funding which states the Legislature “will secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state.”

Bill Phillis, executive director of Vouchers Hurt Ohio, said the vouchers are funded by public dollars to support separate systems of schools.

“And here, the state has been going off the road, right into the ditch, supporting charter schools — publicly-funded and privately-governed, deregulated — and private schools,” Phillis said.

Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, filed a motion in court to have the lawsuit dismissed. Yost said the plaintiffs lack a legal standing to bring challenge the program in court.

“No plaintiffs — the coalition, districts or individual students — have standing, because none have pleaded that they were concretely or uniquely injured by the existence of voucher funding to other students, nor that the educations they offer or receive are impaired,” Yost wrote in his motion to dismiss the case.

School administrators for the various school districts have said they face budgetary challenges when students decide to use the EdChoice vouchers. Opponents also argue that more students — who already made the decision to go to a private school rather than their local public school — will be getting voucher money because of the changes made to the EdChoice eligibility standards.

State lawmakers expanded the EdChoice voucher program to increase student eligibility and the dollar amount per voucher which is $5,500 for K-8 students and $7,500 for high schoolers.

Supporters of EdChoice also argue that the the U.S. Supreme Court and the Ohio Supreme Court have already issued rulings in the past that support the state’s voucher programs.

Now that the motions have been filed by the different parties, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Jaiza Page will review the arguments.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

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