Saturday, August 14, 1999

School voucher foes press for speedy ruling




The Associated Press

        CLEVELAND — Opponents to the state's tuition voucher program tried to persuade a judge Friday to halt the program while a court fight continues over its constitutionality. Classes are to start next week.

        A coalition of civil-liberties and public-education groups filed a lawsuit last month against the program, which uses tax money to send children to private and religious schools. The lawsuit — the second against vouchers in Ohio — claims the program violates the separation of church and state.

        U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. did not say when he will rule.

        The program ended when the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that vouchers were unconstitutional because of the way the legislature originally authorized them, Andy Roth, lead attorney for opponents, argued Friday.

        He said the legislature's re- approval of the program in June was not a continuation of the program.

        “In the eyes of the law, that prior legislation could not continue because it never properly existed,” said Mr. Roth. But Ed Foley, an attorney for the state and others who support vouchers, disagreed. “The General Assembly says it's the same program,” he said. “We're talking about the same schools and same children.”

       



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