Columbus City Schools, 100 other districts sue Ohio
Columbus City Schools (CCS) is lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against the state of Ohio, alleging its voucher system that lets students attend private schools using public money is unconstitutional.
- About 100 districts, several local, joined as a coalition called Vouchers Hurt Ohio.
Why it matters: Eliminating or overhauling EdChoice would have widespread impact. Tens of thousands of Ohio students use vouchers based on the academic performance of their neighborhood school or family income.
- The program is siphoning hundreds of millions of dollars away from public schools, with Columbus most impacted.
- The lawsuit says the program is also re-segregating districts, as non-minority students disproportionately use them.
By the numbers: CCS is expected to lose 6,800 students and more than $40 million in the current school year to private school vouchers, the lawsuit states.
The other side: Opponents say the move is an attack on parent choice and point to a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court case that upheld the state's initial voucher program in Cleveland.
What they're saying: "This issue is existential for public education in Ohio," Columbus school board member Eric Brown said at a Tuesday meeting.
- Brown, a former Ohio Supreme Court chief justice, pointed to the Ohio Constitution allowing for a single system of public education, not multiple.
- He anticipates the suit will be more significant than DeRolph v. State, a '90s case that declared Ohio's school funding method unconstitutional because it over-relied on property tax.
What's next: It'll likely take years to reach an outcome. DeRolph, filed in 1991, wasn't officially decided until 1997.
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers are trying to make all children eligible for vouchers.
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