CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has issued an opinion addressing whether a county school board or public school may take certain actions against students who are enrolled full-time in public-school programs while also attending privately funded nonpublic-school programs.
Read the full opinion here.
The Attorney General wrote in the opinion that “excluding students from public schools merely because they are pursuing additional educational opportunities elsewhere would contravene both the United States and West Virginia Constitutions and state statutes. The same is true of any attempt by county school boards or schools to bar students from participating in nonpublic school programs while attending public schools.”
The request for the opinion came from the State Treasurer, acting in his capacity as chairman of the Hope Scholarship Board. The Legislature passed and the Governor signed the Hope Scholarship Act into law in 2021. It provides money for a variety of educational expenses, including tuition and fees at participating private schools and other educational activities.
According to the Treasurer’s letter, some West Virginia Students are engaged in dual enrollment, meaning they are attending public school while also attending private school—some families dual enroll their children so they can qualify to receive funds from the Hope Scholarship.
Some officials from school districts in the state have objected to this approach; at least one public school has informed parents that it will not allow students to enroll in public school if those students are simultaneously enrolled in a nonpublic school program. A parent also reported that a public school has threatened to mark dual-enrolled students as truant, even though the dual-enrolled students are meeting attendance requirements.
“These scenarios would undermine the way Hope Scholarship was intended to function,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “West Virginia families deserve increased options for their children’s individual educational needs, and it has always been my goal to help make our State first in the nation when it comes to educational opportunities for West Virginia’s kids.”
“This is about the rights of those parents to choose the best possible education for their children.”