A voucher program that would provide West Virginia parents state money to pull their children out of K-12 public schools is blatantly unconstitutional and would disproportionately impact poor children and those with disabilities, a lawyer representing parents who sued the state argued Tuesday in West Virginia’s Supreme Court.
The Hope Scholarship Program, which was passed by the GOP-controlled state legislature last year and would have been one of the most far-reaching school choice programs in the country, “negatively and intentionally” impacts West Virginia’s system of free schools, lawyer Tamerlin Godley told justices during oral arguments.
“It decreases enrollment, and thus funding,” said Godley, who is representing two parents of children who receive special education supports in West Virginia public schools. “It utilizes public funding for subsidizing more affluent families that have chosen private and homeschooling and it silos the poor and special needs children who cannot use the vouchers.”
Signed by Republican Gov. Jim Justice last year, the program was set to go into effect this school year but was blocked by Circuit Court Judge Joanna Tabit in July. In a lawsuit supported by the West Virginia Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools, three parents of special education students said the scholarship program takes money away from already underfunded public schools and is prohibitive because there aren’t local private schools that could meet their children’s needs. One family has since withdrawn from the case.
The state immediately appealed the ruling. It’s unclear when justices will make a decision on the program, although the court’s current term ends in November.
The law that created the Hope Scholarship Program allows families to apply for state funding to support private school tuition, homeschooling fees and a wide range of other expenses. More than 3,000 students had been approved to receive around $4,300 each during the program’s inaugural cycle, according to the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office.
Families could not receive the money if their children were already homeschooled or attending private school. To qualify, students had to have been enrolled in a West Virginia public school last year or set to begin kindergarten this school year.
Flash In A Pan! If you’ve used the internet at any point in time over the past decade, chances are you’ve encountered flash. Flash was originally a creation of Jonathon Gay, developed to edit graphics and render animations.
This was in the mid-1990s and by the turn of the century, Flash was being used for interactive web pages and also to play multimedia content. Flash was relied upon so heavily that in 2005, Adobe purchased Macromedia and made Flash part of its Creative Suite.
As of today, Google and Mozilla have blocked flash on their respective browsers, citing security vulnerabilities as the motivation behind the decision.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is preparing some domestic offices to reopen and resume non-emergency public services on or after June 4. On March 18, USCIS temporarily suspended routine in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices and application support centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines to protect our workforce and the public.
While certain offices are temporarily closed, USCIS continues to provide limited emergency in-person services. Please call the USCIS Contact Center for assistance with emergency services.
As services begin to reopen, offices will reduce the number of appointments and interviews to ensure social distancing, allow time for cleaning and reduce waiting room occupancy. Appointment notices will contain information on safety precautions that visitors to USCIS facilities must follow.
A Hong Kong court that had struck down a ban on face masks at protests said Friday that the government could enforce it for one week, as police readied for any unrest during keenly contested elections this weekend.
The High Court granted the temporary suspension “in view of the great public importance of the issues raised in this case, and the highly exceptional circumstances that Hong Kong is currently facing.”
Anti-government protests have rocked the semi-autonomous Chinese city for more than five months. Protesters remained holed up on a university campus, refusing to turn themselves in for arrest after intense clashes with police last weekend.
The court had ruled Monday that the ban, imposed last month under rarely used emergency powers to prevent protesters from hiding their identity, infringed on fundamental rights more than was reasonably necessary.
China’s parliament rebuked the court ruling this week, in what some interpreted as an indication it might overrule the decision.
In granting the one-week reprieve, the High Court said it was giving the government time to appeal the decision and seek a longer suspension from the Court of Appeal.