Oklahoma School Board Defies the Law to Establish America’s First State-Funded Religious School | wayne dupree

Despite a warning from the state attorney general that the move was illegal, an Oklahoma state school board decided on Monday to allow the establishment of what would be the first state-funded religious school in the country.

St. Isidore’s virtual charter school in Seville will now open after the state’s virtual charter school board approved the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma’s bid by a 3-to-2 margin. through 12th grade from across the state can enroll in the public charter school online.

The board had received a warning from Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond that such a move would be unquestionably against Oklahoma law.

Drummond released a statement immediately after the board’s vote that read, “Sanctioning any state-funded religious school is against Oklahoma law and not in the best interest of taxpayers.” “It is quite unfortunate that board members broke their oath in order to use our tax dollars to support religious institutions. These individuals have exposed the state and themselves to potentially costly legal action. by doing this.

“The Catholic school participates in the Church’s mission of evangelization and is the privileged setting in which Christian education is provided,” the Archdiocese of Oklahoma said in the “Organizational Vision and Purpose” section. ” of his request.

Oklahoma Catholic Conference executive director Brett Farley said, “We are pleased the board has accepted our rationale and application for the nation’s first religious charter school.”

Citizens United for Separation of Church and State condemned the council’s approval.

In a statement, the organization’s president and CEO, Rachel Laser, said the state’s decision to open the first public Christian charter school in the United States was “hard to imagine a violation clearer picture of the religious freedom of Oklahoma taxpayers and public school families”. “America’s democracy is undergoing a major transformation. To challenge this ruling and uphold the separation of religion and state guaranteed by the Oklahoma and United States constitutions, Americans United will work with our colleagues at Oklahoma and the rest of the country.

Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma applauded the council’s decision. Earlier this year, Stitt approved a measure that would provide parents across the state with a tax incentive to send their children to private schools, including religious institutions.

Initiatives to provide parents with greater choice in their child’s education, Stitt said in a statement, “are a victory for religious freedom and educational freedom in our wonderful state.”

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