Mormon student attending WVU as lawsuit progresses

By Cara Bailey | Aug 23, 2007

MORGANTOWN - A West Virginia University student who sued the school after his scholarship was taken away because he left to go on a mission for his church will attend classes while his case is being resolved.

David Haws, a 21-year-old student from Bridgeport, filed a federal injunction against the school in July, after his PROMISE scholarship was taken away because he left school to go on a mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

WVU spokesman Bill Nevin said the school agreed to defer Haws' tuition until the matter is resolved.

Haws had completed one year of classes at WVU before his mission, during which he maintained a 4.0 grade point average.

The two-year mission caused Haws to travel to the western United States, to work in Nevada and California. Prior to his return he filed a request with the PROMISE Scholarship Board, seeking a leave of absence, so he would have his scholarship when he returned.

The request was denied, with the board stating religious leave falls under impermissible personal leave, "which had the potential for abuse by students who would use this type of leave for personal reasons," the suit said.

The request was submitted two more times between August 2005 and February 2007, and was denied both times. In the suit, filed by Forman and Huber attorney Jonathan L. Matthews, Haws claims the board's action are unconstitutional and a violation of Haws' First Amendment rights.

Mormon men normally serve their missions when they turn 19, and women serve at 21.

"It's a perfect time to go and devote yourself to others," Toni Haws, David's mother, told The Dominion Post in Morgantown. "They come back leaders. They come back men. They come back better people."

The suit seeks to have the scholarship reinstated with all the rights and privileges Haws had when he left in 2005, and a change in the PROMISE board's scholarship policy.

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