Oklahoma Judge Strikes Down Vouchers for Special Needs’ Students Because Public Money Was Going to Religious Schools August 29, 2014

Oklahoma Judge Strikes Down Vouchers for Special Needs’ Students Because Public Money Was Going to Religious Schools

Oklahoma passed a law in 2010, the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities act, that provided vouchers to students with special needs. The students could attend one of 49 private schools with the help of taxpayer funding.

But there was a major problem. 43 of those 49 schools were religious. (Only six actually specialized in special needs students.)

A sample of the approved schools

Last November, a legal challenge from a couple of public school districts was tossed out by the state’s Supreme Court because a judge said they didn’t have standing as taxpayers. So a dozen individual plaintiffs sued again and, yesterday, a district judge ruled in their favor:

“Introducing government into private and parochial schools is not what we should be doing. So I am pleased with the ruling,” said Melissa Abdo, one of 12 plaintiffs in the case filed last October.

Former Jenks Superintendent Kirby Lehman, who is a plaintiff and was in the courtroom for the ruling, said the judge said the law was unconstitutional because it “violates the no-aid-to-religion clause” in the Oklahoma Constitution.

“This is a step in the right direction,” he said.

Damn right it is.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt says he’ll appeal the ruling, but it seems irresponsible to fight for children to receive public money to attend religious schools, most of which can’t even handle their special needs. The money could surely be used to support those students in other ways.

(Thanks to Jarrett for the link)

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