The state of Ohio is asking the state Supreme Court to dismiss a lawsuit demanding EdChoice vouchers be distributed as planned before the Ohio legislature moved the deadline.
The Ohio Attorney General’s office filed the motion last week saying the school groups and individuals lack standing in their lawsuit.
The attorneys for the state said the parties “fail to assert a claim for which relief can be granted,” and the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction over the lawsuit.
“Their claims are simply that if they are denied an EdChoice scholarship in the future then their personal financial situations may be negatively impacted,” the dismissal motion stated.
The parties filing the suit include the conservative religious advocacy group Citizens for Community Values, the Monclova and Genoa Christian academies and 19 individuals in support of the lawsuit.
The parties believe they are entitled the money that the schools and families were set to receive on Feb. 1, before the House and Senate passed Senate Bill 120, which moved the deadline for applications to April 1. The bill did not include an emergency clause, but Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill into law on the last day of January.
Since the bill didn’t include an emergency clause — which allows the bill to take effect immediately rather than waiting the 91 days after it’s filed with the Secretary of State — EdChoice supporters say the bill should not go into effect until May. With that in mind, they argue the funds should be disbursed to schools as they were set to do before the Feb. 1 deadline.
“Requiring those families and schools to ‘sit tight’ while the General Assembly attempts to revoke those scholarships, which may or may not occur, is against the law and an unjustifiable and overwhelming burden that threatens to irreparably harm schools and families,” the initial lawsuit stated.
Lawyers for the state argue the Senate Bill didn’t alter the eligibility criteria or the process of EdChoice.
“Said differently, the only thing that S.B. 120 did was move one deadline — the priority application deadline,” the state argued in its motion to dismiss. “It left untouched all preexisting deadlines, eligibility and funding.”
Since passing Senate Bill 120, the legislature sent a version of changes to EdChoice, House Bill 9, to conference committee. After more than 50 hours of testimony, the committee adjourned without a decision.
Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.