IJ Racks Up Ed Choice Victories in Vermont and West Virginia 

February 1, 2023


 Vermont just got a little freer. Over two years ago, IJ challenged Vermont’s “adequate safeguards” standard. This rule effectively barred Vermont parents from using the state’s “town tuitioning” program if they wanted to send their kids to a religious school. 

That’s what happened to IJ client Mike Valente. Although not personally religious, he and his wife decided that the best school for their son was a local Catholic school. Unlike the neighborhood public school, the private school had good academics and provided quality services for their son. Sadly, their local school district, with encouragement from the state, denied the Valente family tuition. The same happened to two other IJ families. 

But thanks to IJ’s 2022 victory before the U.S. Supreme Court in Carson v. Makin, Vermont (and several local school districts) finally surrendered, agreeing that denying tuition on this basis is unconstitutional. Today, Vermont families like the Valentes can now have their children attend the school that is best for them—even if it happens to be religious. 

Meanwhile, Liberty & Law readers may recall from our last issue that the West Virginia Supreme Court in October ruled that the Mountain State’s near-universal educational choice program could go into effect. But what readers could not know at the time was the reasoning of the court, which came only after that initial ruling. 

Now we are happy to report that the state’s high court issued a full-throated endorsement of the constitutionality of the state’s Hope Scholarship Program. The court’s ruling is going to be critical in fighting off future challenges to educational choice programs because of how thoroughly it refutes the legal theories underlying many of those challenges. 

Our victory in West Virginia is particularly special because West Virginia was the first state to enact a near-universal choice program, and now it is the first state to uphold the constitutionality of such an expansive program. This is a victory that will pay dividends for years to come.

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