CHARLESTON — One of the first big cases for West Virginia’s new Intermediate Court of Appeals will be a challenge to the state’s Hope Scholarship savings account program.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Tuesday filed a motion with the CIA to stay, pending appeal, a lower court decision that granted a request for a preliminary and permanent injunction to restrain the Hope scholarship program from moving forward for the 2022-2023 school year.
“Thousands of West Virginia families are now in limbo, wondering if they can afford the education they have planned for their children this coming year,” wrote Lindsay See, the solicitor general for the attorney general’s office. “It shouldn’t have happened. The district court acted without jurisdiction, granted relief that neither party had sought, accepted baseless claims, and speculated on the existence of prejudices.
On July 6, Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Joanna Tabit granted a temporary and permanent injunction against the Hope Fellowship, calling the law “null and empty.”
Putnam County parent Travis Beaver, Upshur County parent Karen Kalar, and Raleigh County teacher Wendy Peters filed suit last January against State Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch, Moore. , former Chairman of the State Board of Education Miller Hall, Speaker of the Senate Craig Blair, Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw and Governor Jim Justice. Although they were named in the lawsuit, Burch and Miller filed documents in support of the parents’ legal arguments.
The Hope Scholarship gives parents the opportunity to use $4,600 of their per-student expenditures from the state school aid formula for educational expenses, such as private school tuition, tutoring home care, learning aids and other acceptable expenses. Before the program was halted, more than 3,146 Hope Scholarship applications had been granted since the May 15 deadline at a cost of approximately $14.5 million.
“…In the absence of a stay, the state and its families will suffer irreparable harm: a validly enacted law will remain silent because the political judgments of the Legislative Assembly have ‘troubled’ a single judge, and the students across the state will be deprived of educational opportunities for at least a year. year,” See written. “…Given how the law helps children, a stay also serves the public interest. The Court should suspend this order to help ensure West Virginia students have the best education options available for their individual needs – this school year.
Opponents of the Hope Scholarship argue that it violates the state Constitution which requires the legislature to provide for a “Complete and effective system of free schools.” See argues that the legislature can both support the public school system and fund educational alternatives.
“The Constitution does not prohibit statutes that could “encourage” students to leave the public space
Schools,” See wrote. “The Constitution requires public schools to be funded for every child who attends them – it is not a de facto barrier to supporting anything else. And there is no precedent prohibiting programs that could potentially affect funding measures.
The ICA officially started on July 1st. The new court is meant to help ease the burden on the state Supreme Court and allow judges to focus on legal cases that set precedents. Part of the CIA’s job is to hear non-criminal appeals of circuit court cases, such as Tabit’s decision in the Hope Scholarship case.
The Supreme Court still has the ability to seek jurisdiction over civil cases appealed to the Intermediate Court. Parties to cases can also appeal to the Supreme Court, which can hear cases at its discretion.
The CIA consists of Chief Justice Dan Greear, Justice Tom Scarr and Justice Charles Lorensen.