By STEVEN ALLEN ADAMS
CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals is speeding up a lawsuit challenging the Hope Scholarship program with oral arguments scheduled for October.
In an order issued late Thursday, the state Supreme Court scheduled briefs from plaintiffs and defendants throughout September, with closing arguments scheduled for Oct. 4. Additionally, three out of five judges refused to stay the lower court’s decision blocking hope. Fellowship to be implemented.
The order comes after the new Intermediate Court of Appeals denied a motion Aug. 2 to stay a ruling by Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Joanna Tabit last month that granted a temporary and permanent injunction restraining the continued implementation of the Hope Scholarship Program, calling the law “null and empty.”
“The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals may, on its own motion, obtain jurisdiction over any civil matter filed in the West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals”, the order indicated.
The ICA denied the stay, with Chief Justice Dan Greear recused himself, with 11th Judicial Circuit Judge Jennifer Dent taking her place and denying the stay along with ICA Judge Thomas Scarr. CIA Judge Charles Lorensen was the lone supporter of issuing a stay.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed motions to appeal Tabit’s Hope Fellowship injunction to the CIA, as well as the motion to stay Tabit’s decision pending appeal. After the stay was denied, the Attorney General’s office appealed to the Supreme Court to grant a stay and overturn the Hope Fellowship’s injunction. But according to the order, the Supreme Court decided to hear and expedite the appeal separately from Morrisey’s motions.
“The appeal is expedited to notice and consideration. Accordingly, both motions for expedited relief are dismissed as moot,” the order indicated.
In his July ruling, Tabit said the Hope Scholarship violates the state’s constitutional provision that requires the state to provide a free school system regulated by the state board of education by taking funds intended for public schools and allowing it to be used for private schools or home schooling. .
“I am disappointed that the court did not grant a stay so that the thousands of families who should receive funds from the law can take advantage of the benefits and send their children to the schools of their choice,” Morrisey said in a statement late Thursday. “We are ready to plead before the Supreme Court and fight for the constitutionality of this law. This is to protect the fundamental freedom of parents to choose the best education for their children.
The Hope Scholarship gives parents the opportunity to use a portion, $4,600, of their per-student spending from the state school aid formula for educational expenses, such as school tuition. tutoring, tutoring at home, learning aids and other acceptable expenses.
The Office of the State Treasurer is responsible for administering the Hope Scholarship Program, with the program commencing at the start of the 2022-23 school year. More than 3,146 Hope Scholarship applications have been awarded since the May 15 deadline at a cost of approximately $14.5 million.
Only students enrolled full-time in a public school for the entire previous year or for 45 calendar days are eligible to apply for the scholarship, but the program is open to all eligible public, private, and university students. homeschooling by 2026 and could cost just as much. up to $102.9 million.
Putnam County parent Travis Beaver, Upshur County parent Karen Kalar, and Raleigh County teacher Wendy Peters filed a lawsuit last January against the state treasurer, Riley Moore, Former Superintendent of State Schools, Clayton Burch, Former Chairman of the State Board of Education, Miller Hall, Speaker of the Senate, Craig Blair, House. President Roger Hanshaw and Governor Jim Justice.
“Courts at all levels — now including the Supreme Court of West Virginia — agree that the injunction must remain in place pending appeal and that the state cannot implement the voucher program until its constitutionality is in question”, said Tamerlin Godley, partner at Paul Hastings LLP and lead counsel for Beaver, Kalar and Peters. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to present our clients’ case to the Supreme Court and urge it to uphold the trial court’s ruling that the Voucher Act violates the constitutional rights of children in Virginia. -Western and must be cancelled.”
In June, Hall and Burch filed a response to the lawsuit supporting the parents, breaking with the governor, legislature, and state treasurer. Since then, Hall has been succeeded by Paul Hardesty as chairman of the state board, and Burch has resigned to become superintendent of schools for the deaf and blind.
(Adams can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)