Revised February 2009
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17. Ohio—Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program
Program type: Scholarships (and tutorial grants) for students in Cleveland
Description: The Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program provides scholarships to students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD). The scholarships are for attendance at a qualified private school within the district or at a public school in any district surrounding Cleveland.10 Students in grades K-8 are eligible to apply for scholarships. Scholarship recipients may retain their scholarships through grade 12. If the number of new scholarships in any year is less than the number of eligible applicants, selection of recipients follows a lottery method. Students from low-income families have priority in receiving new scholarships.
Participating private schools may not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or ethnic background, and may not promote unlawful behavior or teach hatred.
Amount of assistance: To attend a participating private school, the annual scholarship amount is based on the tuition of the school and the family income level of the recipient. Currently, the scholarship amount may not exceed the approved private school's tuition or $3,450 for students in grades K-12; whichever is less.
For recipients whose family income level is below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, the actual scholarship award is 90 percent of (up to) the maximum amount (i.e., a student from such a family and currently in grade 8 may receive a scholarship award of at most $3,105). For recipients whose family income is at or above 200 percent of the poverty level, the scholarship is 75 percent of (up to) the maximum amount. Remaining tuition costs are to be covered by parents; however, for recipients in grades K-8 whose family income level is below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, participating schools must not charge any tuition in excess of the remaining 10 percent of the amount, whatever that amount may be.
Number of participants: In the 2006-07 school year, 6,116 students received scholarships to attend 45 participating private schools.
Authorizing statute: Ohio Revised Code Annotated 3313.97.4-3313.99
Legislative history: The program was signed into law in 1995 and first implemented in the 1996-97 school year. On July 1, 2003, the state legislature amended the program to allow recipients to retain their scholarships through grade 10 as of the 2004-05 academic year, and also raised the maximum scholarship amount from $2,500 to $3,000. In June of 2005, the legislature expanded the grade range of students to whom new scholarships are available from grades K-3 to K-8; it also allowed scholarship recipients to retain their scholarships through grade 12 during the 2006-07 school year and raised the maximum scholarship amount available to all recipients, regardless of grade, to $3,450 for the 2006-07 and subsequent school years.
Judicial history: In May 1999, the Supreme Court of Ohio upheld the constitutionality of the Cleveland program, but also found that it had been improperly passed by the Ohio legislature, in Simmons-Harris v. Goff. In June 1999, the legislature amended and expanded the program. In a separate lawsuit in December 1999, a U.S. district court found the program to violate the First Amendment (Zelman v. Simmons-Harris). In December 2000, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court decision. On June 27, 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the appellate court decision, thereby affirming the program's constitutionality.
18. Ohio—Autism Scholarship Program
Program type: Scholarships for students with autism
Description: Students who have been identified with autism through their local education agency are eligible for scholarships to receive special education from registered providers, including private schools, or alternative public providers, including schools in another district and other public entities. To be eligible for this scholarship, a student must have been enrolled in, or be eligible to enroll in, a school in their assigned district; determined under IDEA to be an eligible student with a disability; and have an Individual Education Program (IEP) developed by the school district. Registered private providers must, among other requirements, implement students' IEPs as written.
Amount of assistance: The scholarships are capped at $20,000 per student. The scholarship may cover transportation costs if transportation is listed on the student's IEP as a related service. For the 2007-08 school year, the average scholarship was $15,500.
Number of participants: In the 2007-08 school year, 1,005 students used scholarships to receive services from 190 private providers.
Authorizing statute: Ohio Revised Code Annotated 3310.41
Legislative history: In 2003, the Ohio legislature passed the autism scholarship program as part of a larger bill.
Judicial history: No legal suits have been filed regarding the program.
19. Ohio—Educational Choice Scholarship Pilot Program (EdChoice)
Program type: Scholarships for students who attend low-performing schools
Description: Students who attend or will be entering Ohio public schools that have been designated by the state as under "Academic Watch" or "Academic Emergency" (the two lowest ratings on the state's accountability system) for two of the last three years are eligible to receive scholarships to attend a participating private school of their choice. Students currently enrolled in charter schools but who otherwise would be assigned to schools in these categories are also eligible. Students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District are not eligible to participate, as the state offers a separate scholarship program for these students (see above, page 22). Scholarships are not available to students currently enrolled in a private non-public school or who are home schooled.
Eligible students must first be accepted at a participating private school for the next school year before applying for an EdChoice scholarship. There is a statewide cap of 14,000 EdChoice scholarships; if in any year there are more than 14,000 applications priority is first given to students renewing, and then to students whose household income is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
Amount of assistance: The EdChoice scholarship amount is currently set at $4,500 for elementary school students (grades K-8) and $5,300 for high school students or the private school's tuition amount, whichever is lower. The scholarship amount will increase slightly each year.
Number of participants: In the 2007-08 school year, 7,144 students received scholarships to attend 319 private schools throughout the state.
Authorizing statute: Ohio Revised Code Annotated §§3310.01-3310.17
Legislative history: On June 30, 2005, the Educational Choice Scholarship Pilot Program was signed into law as part of an omnibus education bill. On March 30, 2006, a new omnibus education bill was passed that expanded eligibility for scholarships under the program to students in schools in academic emergency or academic watch for the three previous years; the previous law limited eligibility to students only in schools in academic emergency, the lowest category in the school rating system. On March 30, 2007, eligibility for scholarships was further extended to students in schools in these categories for two of the previous three years.
Judicial history: No legal suits have been filed regarding the program.
10 The Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program also allows students in CMSD public schools to obtain grants for tutoring services by approved providers. The number of grants for tutoring services issued in any year is intended to equal the number of scholarships for attendance at private schools also issued in that year.