School Choice Ohio has filed a public records lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court against the Cincinnati and Springfield school districts.
The lawsuit claims the districts are illegally withholding the names and addresses of students eligible for Educational Choice scholarships.
The scholarships provide low-income families more than $4,000 a year in tax money to send their children to private schools instead of public schools. The supply of scholarships, however, far exceeds the demand. School Choice Ohio is trying to get the word out to parents that the scholarships are available.
Cincinnati Public Schools says it would be a violation of federal law to release students’ contact information.
School Choice Ohio says the district “deliberately and systematically withheld public records” to avoid giving School Choice Ohio the information it needs.
Public schools lose state funding when students transfer to private schools. Although some private schools contact families individually, Ohio law does not require eligible families to be notified about the scholarship.
A win by School Choice Ohio could lead to drastic enrollment drops at some schools and could redefine student privacy rules.
At issue is how districts handle contact information for students – something federal law terms “directory information.”