School lawsuits: Ohio voucher system unconstitutional | News, Sports, Jobs

COLUMBUS (AP) – Ohio’s 25-year voucher scheme creates unconstitutional system of separately funded private education and leads to the resegregation of some districts as non-minority students primarily benefit from the program, lawsuit says challenging the system.

The EdChoice program depletes state funding to help struggling districts and, in many cases, provides more voucher money to districts than they receive in state aid, a said the lawsuit filed in Franklin County Common Plea Court Monday.

In turn, many private schools attended by voucher students are not subject to state regulation and, unlike public schools, may base attendance on intellectual ability, athletic skill, or faith. nun of the students, according to the lawsuit.

The Ohio Constitution calls for a common school system, with standards and resources for all Ohioans, said Eric Brown, a member of the Columbus school board and former Democratic chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Ohio.

Funding schools that are not for everyone is not the business of the Ohio General Assembly, and it is not the responsibility of Ohio taxpayers to pay for these schools. private “ Brown said Tuesday.

About 100 districts, part of the Hurt Ohio Vouchers Coalition, have joined the trial to date.

Supporters of the vouchers called the complaint an attack on parental choice and noted that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the original version of the Ohio vouchers in 2002.

“It shows the deep contempt these greedy government elitists have for parents to make the decisions that are best for their children’s education,” said John Fortney, spokesman for Senate Speaker Matt Huffman, leader of the GOP majority Senate.

“Parents have chosen these schools for a reason, and it is because they believe that they give their children the best chance to thrive as a student”, Troy McIntosh, executive director of the Ohio Christian Education Network, said in a statement.

A message has been left with the state’s Education Department seeking comment.

More than 60,000 children participate in the voucher program, which began in 1996 when it was made available to students in schools in the city of Cleveland. Ohio has more than 1.7 million school children.

Enrollment at schools in the city of Richmond Heights on the outskirts of Cleveland consisted of around 26% white students and 74% color students before the EdChoice program was extended in 2005, the lawsuit said. . In contrast, only 3% of students in Richmond Heights are white today, even though four in ten city residents are white.

Meanwhile, while the district receives $ 287,000 in state funding for its 700 students, the state pays more than $ 675,000 for approximately 100 EdChoice students in the district, according to the lawsuit.

“The voucher program for private schools is redistributing our schools, and it is unfair, illegal and unconstitutional” said Nneka Jackson, a member of the Richmond Heights school board.

Parents of white students are generally more able to bridge the gap between the amount of an EdChoice voucher and the total tuition fee of a private school than parents of minority students, making it more difficult access of children of color to the program, according to the lawsuit.

The state budget approved by lawmakers last year increased the maximum amount of vouchers to attend private schools from $ 4,650 to $ 5,500 for K-8 children and from $ 6,000 to $ 7,500 for high school students.

Private schools will receive around $ 250 million in voucher payments this year, siphoning off money that already underfunded schools desperately need, said William Phillis, executive director of the Coalition of Equity & Advocacy of School Funding.

His group’s lawsuit in 1991 led to several court decisions declaring the Ohio system unconstitutional when it came to funding schools.

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