On June 27, 2002, in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the United States Supreme Court upheld Ohio's school voucher initiative, authorizing government aid for students in failing Cleveland public schools to attend, upon independent parental choice, private and parochial schools. Similar education reform initiatives may face distinct challenges in the Commonwealth. Significantly, traditional legal interpretation of Virginia constitutional provisions has been more restrictive than those of federal constitutional provisions addressing government entanglement with religion. While carefully crafted voucher initiatives aiding sectarian private schools may pass muster under the U.S. Constitution, application of the Commonwealth's constitutional requirements could warrant a different result.
Kathleen G. Harris,
Public Funding for NonPublic Education: School Vouchers Initiatives,
Rich. J. L. & Pub. Int.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/pilr/vol7/iss1/3