Chris Schulz Published

Attorney General Publishes Opinion On Hope Scholarship Dual Enrollment

Wooden classroom desks in close up with no students.Adobe Stock

State officials continue to clarify the Hope Scholarship for families and school authorities.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said county boards of education or public schools cannot lawfully prohibit a student from participating in a public school program because of the student’s simultaneous engagement in nonpublic education.

The Hope Scholarship requires applicants to be enrolled full-time and attending a public school program in the state for at least 45 calendar days.

In an opinion released last week, Morrisey affirms the practice of “dual enrollment”: enrolling a student in both a public and nonpublic program, only to disenroll the student from the public educational program once Hope Scholarship funds have been secured.

The opinion uses the example of a student attending an in-person private school during the day while attending a virtual public school in the evening.

“In the Hope Scholarship Act, the [West Virginia] Legislature made the express choice to allow students to depart public schools with state funding in hand so long as they are enrolled in public schools for 45 continuous days,” Morrisey said in the opinion. “The Legislature placed no further conditions on this 45-day requirement.”

The opinion also said schools cannot bar public school students from engaging with nonpublic education.

“Altogether, county boards of education or public schools may not lawfully prohibit students from engaging in ‘dual enrollment’ or deny students the ability to participate in public-school programs based on those students’ simultaneous engagement in private education outside public school programs,” the opinion concludes.

State Treasurer Riley Moore, who also serves as the chairman of the West Virginia Hope Scholarship Board, requested the opinion and issued his own clarification of Hope Scholarship use rules in October.