Oklahoma school board unanimously rejects application for publicly-funded Catholic charter school

Wednesday, April 12, 2023 | Tag Cloud

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – A school board appointed by Republican officials in Oklahoma has unanimously rejected an application by the Catholic Church to establish the first tax-payer funded religious charter school in the US, Reuters reports.

The application was made by representatives of the Roman Catholic Church to Oklahoma’s Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, which considers applications for virtual charter schools.

Charter schools are managed independently according to the terms of a charter or national authority, but are funded by the taxpayer.

In submitting its application to the Oklahoma school board, the Church hoped to harness public funds in the amount of $25.7 million over the first five years to establish the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School. The school would have begun with 500 children and then increased to 1,500 pupils ranging from kindergarten age through high school, Reuters said.

The outcome of the Oklahoma application is of national interest as public funds would be used to provide children with specific and exclusive religious instruction: in the event, the matter is determined by a court of law, the case would raise questions as to the scope of the US Constitution’s First Amendment “establishment clause,” which restricts government officials from endorsing any particular religion, or promoting religion over nonreligion, Reuters noted.

The Board voted 5-0 against approving the application, Reuters reports. The Church now has 30 days to address concerns raised by its first application and can then apply again.

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