WSYX/WTTE Columbus |
The Ohio Supreme Court dismissed Citizens for Community Values v DeWine, a legal challenge to legislation freezing EdChoice scholarship enrollment passed in January 2020.
The suit, Citizens for Community Values vs. DeWine et al., was meant to preserve the rights of thousands of Ohio schoolchildren in poorer-performing school districts to choose their preferred school and have the tuition subsidized by their home district, up to $4,650 – $6,000 per student. However, in the 2020-2021 school year, the number of schools deemed “poor” on the state report card more than doubled, from 517 in 2019 to more than 1,200 in the current year.
Public schools were in uproar over the potential budget hit, including many that had not previously been required to participate in EdChoice.
In late January, the Ohio legislature and Governor passed Senate Bill 120 to “freeze” the program at just 517 eligible schools — but did not include “emergency” language in the bill. As such, the freeze should not have legally taken effect until April or May, according to Citizens for Community Values, and EdChoice applications and processing should have begun as expected on February 1st. However, the Ohio Department of Education did not process any applications.
“ODE is violating the law by refusing to receive, process, and award EdChoice Scholarships,” the lawsuit stated, asking for an order from the Supreme Court to spur ODE to act.
Later in the spring an emergency coronavirus relief bill HB 197, accomplishing much the same on EdChoice as SB 120, was passed and signed into law.
On Thursday, the Ohio Supreme Court found that due to HB 197 the Citizens for Community Values’ point was no longer relevant and dismissed the lawsuit.