Court: Public Funds Can't Go to Religious School

Oklahoma case may wind up before the US Supreme Court
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 25, 2024 2:47 PM CDT
Oklahoma Court Blocks Public Funds for Religious School
The Oklahoma Supreme Court is pictured in the state Capitol building in Oklahoma City in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

Oklahoma's Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked approval of what would have been the nation's first publicly funded religious school. The high court determined the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board's 3-2 vote last year to approve the application by the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma for the St. Isidore of Seville Virtual Charter School violates both the Oklahoma and US constitutions, as well as state law, per the AP.

"Under Oklahoma law, a charter school is a public school," the court wrote. "As such, a charter school must be nonsectarian." The online public charter school would have been open to students across the state in kindergarten through grade 12, and part of its mission would have been to evangelize its students in the Catholic faith. The case is being closely watched because supporters of the school believe recent US Supreme Court decisions have indicated the court is more open to public funds going to religious entities.

A group of parents, faith leaders, and a public education nonprofit sued to stop the establishment of the school. Oklahoma's Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt and State Superintendent Ryan Walters supported the board's approval of the school. The case is likely to be appealed and could wind up before the US Supreme Court, per the New York Times. (More Oklahoma stories.)

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