Board OKs Religious School Funded by Taxpayers

Oklahoma's attorney general calls the plan for the school, which would be a US first, unconstitutional
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 5, 2023 7:30 PM CDT
Board OKs Religious School Funded by Taxpayers
Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond, shown Feb. 1, opposed the school decision.   (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

A state school board voted Monday to approve what would be the first publicly funded religious school in the nation, despite a warning from Oklahoma's attorney general that the decision was unconstitutional. The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board voted 3-2 to approve the application by the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma to establish the St. Isodore of Seville Virtual Charter School. The online public charter school would be open to students across the state in kindergarten through grade 12. Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond had warned the board that such a decision clearly violated the state constitution, the AP reports.

"The approval of any publicly funded religious school is contrary to Oklahoma law and not in the best interest of taxpayers," Drummond said in a statement after the board's vote. "It's extremely disappointing that board members violated their oath in order to fund religious schools with our tax dollars." He added that the decision could lead to a costly court battle, and the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State vowed in a statement Monday to take "all possible legal action" against the approval. "It's hard to think of a clearer violation of the religious freedom of Oklahoma taxpayers and public-school families than the state establishing the nation's first religious public charter school," said Rachel Laser, the group's president and CEO, in a statement.

(Read more Oklahoma stories.)

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