Columbus City School District v. State

Columbus City School District v. State, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2022-CV-000067

Litigation: Challenging Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship Program as “an existential threat to Ohio’s public school system.” Opposed to the scholarship program: Barberton City School District; Cleveland Heights – University Heights City School District; Columbus City School District; Lima City School District; Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding; Parents Jeffrey Donnelly and Eve McPherson and children; Richmond Heights City School District  In support: Institute for Justice  

Outcomes: Briefing has been scheduled in this case to extend through 2022; the first hearing in anticipation of trial will be in early 2023.

Why it Matters: This lawsuit is brought by a coalition of public school districts. As of April 15, 2022, 112 of Ohio’s 610 traditional public school districts indicated support for the litigation. These schools enroll 1,492,219 students; 50,281 students, or 3.3% of traditional public school students, chose an EdChoice Scholarship or EdChoice Expansion Scholarship. If 3.3% of students represent an “existential threat” to the 112 public schools bringing this litigation, it is hardly rational to believe that removing the voucher program, which the parents of these students have deemed to be necessary for their children, will help those public schools in any appreciable way – and it is irrational to believe that denying educational opportunity for 3.3% of students will improve their learning outcomes, which is the point of public funding for education.

Effects: This case has not deterred the state legislature from proceeding to consider educational opportunity for students and parents have not been deterred from accessing voucher opportunities for their children. However, concern has been voiced regarding the potential for plaintiffs to be overly aggressive against private religious schools during discovery, as has been seen in such cases in other states. This activity will be closely monitored to ensure fairness during this litigation process.