Randy Yohe Published

W.Va. Education Leaders Call Hope Scholarship Unconstitutional

School vouchers take kids and money away from public school.

In a statement released Thursday evening, West Virginia’s Superintendent of Education Clayton Burch and the state school board said the Hope Scholarship diverts funding from public schools and that makes it unconstitutional.

Burch and other state leaders are named in a lawsuit, Beaver Vs. Moore, requesting the court halt the unconstitutional diversion of public funds from public schools authorized by the West Virginia Legislature in the Hope Scholarship Program’

A West Virginia Department of Education statement released Thursday evening said “The Hope Scholarship Program incentivizes students to exit the public school system and drains needed public funds from the state’s public schools. As a result, it violates the West Virginia Constitution as it prevents the West Virginia Board of Education from providing a thorough and efficient education for all children.”

The Hope Scholarship website notes that the program is “The state’s education savings account program that gives parents an opportunity to build an individual learning experience that works best for their child. The scholarship allows K-12 students to receive financial assistance that can be used for tuition, fees and other expenses.”

The Hope Scholarship amount will vary annually depending on the amount of state aid funding per pupil provided to county boards of education for public school students. The scholarship amount for the 2022-23 year will be $4,298.60.

Families will spend their Hope Scholarship funds directly through the Education Market Assistant (EMA) platform with participating education service providers and vendors for qualified educational expenses, including but not limited to the items listed below.

  • Tuition and fees for private school, non-public online programs, or alternative education programs
  • Services provided by a public school (extracurricular, individual courses)
  • Tutoring services
  • Fees for standardized or advanced placement exams
  • Fees for preparation courses
  • Educational services and therapies
  • Supplemental materials (supplies, textbooks)
  • Transportation fees
  • Any other qualified expense as approved by the Hope Scholarship Board

The lawsuit also challenges the scholarship adminstration led by state Treasurer Riley Moore, referring to the Hope Scholarship as ‘the voucher law.’ It said, “The voucher law unlawfully creates a separate board which oversees and supervises the public’s funds that are to be used for educational purposes.

The WVDE statement adds that the West Virginia Board of Education intends to take every action it can to protect public education and the children it serves.