State seeks dismissal of lawsuit over voucher applications

COLUMBUS (AP) — The state has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to dismiss a lawsuit that challenges a delay of applications for Ohio’s biggest school voucher program.

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

Lawmakers have been considering possible changes to avoid a looming spike in the number of qualifying locations for the program. Unable to reach agreement in early February, they voted to postpone the start of applications for two months to allow time for further consideration.

That bill was not done in a way allowing it to take effect immediately, meaning the original deadline is in place and the state is now violating it, according to a Feb. 3 complaint filed with the Supreme Court by two private religious schools, parents of Ohio students planning to use vouchers and a conservative advocacy group.

On Thursday, the Attorney General’s office asked the high court to dismiss the lawsuit on several grounds, including assertions the groups’ lacked standing to bring the complaint and that they can’t prove they’re entitled to EdChoice scholarships.

Senate President Larry Obhof has said he’s “cautiously optimistic” a voucher fix can be reached.