Ohio school districts file lawsuit over voucher program

Ohio

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(WKBN) – A coalition of public school districts in Ohio filed a lawsuit challenging the private school voucher program.

Though few are listed in the actual complaint, many local school districts are part of the “Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding” that is listed in the court documents.

The group alleges the EdChoice Scholarship Program is “siphoning away hundreds of millions of dollars from public school students, teachers, classrooms and communities.”

The lawsuit was filed in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

Former Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice and current Columbus City Schools board member Eric Brown said the suit asks where the Ohio General Assembly gets the power to fund private school vouchers.

“Funding schools that aren’t for everybody is not the business of the Ohio General Assembly, and it is not the responsibility of Ohio taxpayers to pay for these private schools,” Brown said. “The Ohio General Assembly either knows they are violating the Ohio Constitution and doesn’t care or the members who support expanding the private school vouchers need a history lesson themselves.”

Nneka Jackson, a school board member with the Richmond Heights School District in Cuyahoga County, said private school vouchers are making school segregation in Ohio worse, not better.

“If someone tells you this is about helping poor minority children, hook them up to a lie detector test asap and stand back because the sparks are going to fly,” Jackson said.

“About 40 percent of Richmond Heights residents are white. Before the EdChoice private school voucher program, about 26 percent of the students in the Richmond Heights School District were white and 74 percent were students of color. Today, after EdChoice, Richmond Heights is three percent white and 97 percent students of color,” Jackson said.

Dan Heintz, a school board member in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District, said his district lost more than $27 million to private school vouchers, and this forced voters to pass two levies to raise property taxes.

John Fortney, director of communications for Senate Majority, responded to the complaint with the following statement:

“This shows the deep disdain these greedy big government elitists have for parents to make decisions that are best for the education of their children. It is shameful and a direct attack on Ohio families,” Fortney said.

The complaint can be read here.

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