Mormon regains Promise Scholarship

From staff reports

A Mormon student at West Virginia University has regained his Promise Scholarship after losing it two years ago when he went on a two-year mission for the church. David Haws of Bridgeport dropped his First Amendment lawsuit Friday after the state Higher Education Policy Commission paid $12,455 in attorneys fees.

Haws agreed to the settlement after the Commission changed a policy last week that allowed for his reinstatement. Haws is represented by Charleston attorney Jon Matthews, who handled the case for the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Jon Matthews: “I think it’s a great victory for the First Amendment and for the free exercise of religion in general. David wanted to make sure that this wasn’t a special exemption just for him, that this was going to apply to anyone who was in his same circumstance, who wanted to apply for a leave of absence if they had a sincerely-held religious belief.” 

Haws first enrolled at WVU three years ago on a Promise Scholarship after graduating from Bridgeport High as the school’s valedictorian.

He left after his freshman year to serve a two-year mission in Las Vegas for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Haws requested the Promise Board to defer his scholarship until he returned from his mission.

The Promise Board denied that request. Haws completed his mission and re-enrolled at WVU this semester, which had deferred his tuition until the case was resolved.

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