Cleveland, Ohio, School Voucher Program

From Ohio History Central

In 1995, the Ohio state government implemented a controversial, school voucher program for students in the Cleveland Public Schools.

Under this program, students could apply for a voucher of up to $2700.00 to attend private schools, including religious ones, instead of the public schools. The government created a lottery to award the vouchers, as only a certain number of students were eligible for the program due to budgetary restrictions.

Several groups in Ohio and nationally opposed this program, arguing that it violated the United States Constitution's declaration that church and state must be kept separate. By allowing students to attend private schools with tuition paid for with state money, the State of Ohio, groups such as the Ohio American Civil Liberties Union claimed, had supposedly violated the separation of church and state. In December 1999, a federal judge ruled that the school voucher program in Ohio did violate the U.S. Constitution. On June 27, 2002, the United States Supreme Court reversed the earlier court's ruling, declaring that vouchers did not violate the separation of church and state. In 2005, the Ohio legislature and government expanded the school voucher program to other parts of the state, although the number of students able to use the vouchers remained small due to funding restrictions.

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