Key Vote Alert: Support HB 2596

Feb 1, 2023 by AFP

On behalf of Americans for Prosperity West Virginia, I urge you to support HB 2596. This vote may be recorded in our 2023 session legislative scorecard.

West Virginia has become a leader among states in education policy. The Mountain State went from having virtually no education freedom in early 2019 to having charter schools, open enrollment, and the ground-breaking Hope Scholarship now available to families. While West Virginia has already adopted public school open enrollment at a state level (H.B. 206), the statute requires further clarification to fully ensure that students and parents are able to enjoy attending any public school, regardless of their ZIP code or income level. HB 2596 addresses this problem and ensures that West Virginia public school students are not forced to attend the school they are zoned into by virtue of their residence. Rather, this bill would align the current law with the true intent of the original open enrollment statute—giving families the freedom to transfer to any public school they feel best suits their unique needs.

HB 2596:

  • Clarifies current code to ensure that the only reason a student’s request to transfer may be denied is due to a lack of space, or a program, for the student to enroll.
  • Outlines that, throughout the course of processing a student’s transfer, county superintendents or county boards may not distinguish between students based on where they live or any potential disability status.
  • Creates an important transparency mechanism of reporting requirements that are meant to ascertain the number of students who transfer via the provisions of this code and provide that data to, among other entities, the legislature.
  • Establishes a process in which open enrollment is publicized by the county boards. It is important that West Virginia families are made aware of the opportunities open enrollment and school choice provides to them, namely, that they can attend the public school of their choice regardless of their zip code.

As the state continues to advance toward greater education freedom, improving open enrollment is a necessary step. Creating a more clear, mandatory policy for open enrollment that is easy to understand for families, educators, and policy makers will help families better utilize their educational options and further the incredible strides West Virginia has already made in becoming a national leader on educational freedom.

It is for these reasons I respectfully urge you to support HB 2596.