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Oklahoma Supreme Court strikes down public funding for religious charter school

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the approval for what would become the nation’s first publicly funded religious school unconstitutional, requiring that it be rescinded.

Last year, the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board approved, by a vote of 3-2, the application by the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma for the St. Isidore of Seville Virtual Charter School. 

However, the court stated this action “violates state and federal law and is unconstitutional.”

“Under Oklahoma law, a charter school is a public school. As such, a charter school must be nonsectarian,” the court wrote. “However, St. Isidore will evangelize the Catholic school curriculum while sponsored by the state.”

This virtual school would have served students statewide from kindergarten through grade 12.

In addition, part of the school’s mission would have been to evangelize its students in the Catholic faith.

A group of parents, faith leaders, and a public education nonprofit organization filed a lawsuit to halt the establishment of the school.

Supporters of the school believe that recent Supreme Court decisions indicate a greater willingness to allow public funds to support religious entities.

Gov. Kevin Stitt (R-OK) and Superintendent Ryan Walters supported the board’s approval of the school.

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