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Ohio Seeks Dismissal Of Lawsuit Over School Voucher Applications

A Hilliard schools student completes classroom work with an iPad.
Columbus Neighborhoods

The state is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a delay of applications for Ohio's biggest school voucher program. 

At issue is legislative debate over the program known as EdChoice. The system is supposed to help fund private school tuition for students from poor-performing districts and schools.

Lawmakers considering possible changes were unable to reach agreement before the February 1 deadline and postponed the start of applications until April 1 to allow further consideration.

A February 3 lawsuit by Citizens for Community Values is trying to force Ohio to start processing applications immediately.

The EdChoice Scholarship Program grants student vouchers based on a school's academic performance. The list of schools, deemed to be failing by the state report card, is about to more than double from 517 to 1,227.

The president of Citizens for Community Values, Aaron Baer, says he represents parents and private schools who have been harmed by the law pushing the EdChoice window back two months.

The House wants to move to a voucher system based only on a student's family income. That proposed plan would raise the eligible income threshold to 250% of the federal poverty level.

The Senate wants to keep EdChoice and change the methodology of determining what qualifies a school as failing. That change would bring the school eligibility list down to about 400. The Senate plan would increase the income eligibility rate to 300% of the federal poverty level.

There are school choice advocates who oppose any change to the current EdChoice system. They argue that parents have known about the new list of eligible schools since November and have already been making plans for the 2020-2021 school year.