Oklahoma School Board Defies Law to Establish First Publicly Funded Religious School in America | Wayne Dupree

Despite a warning from the state’s attorney general that the move was unlawful, an Oklahoma state school board on Monday decided to authorize the establishment of what would be the first publicly financed religious school in the country.

St. Isidore of Seville Virtual Charter School will now open after the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board approved the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma’s application by a 3-2 margin. Students in kindergarten through grade 12 from all around the state might enroll at the public charter school online.

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

Drummond issued a statement immediately after the board’s vote that said, “The sanctioning of any publicly financed religious school is antithetical to Oklahoma law and not in the best interest of taxpayers.” “It’s quite unfortunate that board members broke their oath in order to use our tax money to support religious institutions. These individuals have put the state and themselves at risk of potentially expensive legal action by doing this.

“The Catholic school participates in the evangelizing mission of the Church and is the privileged setting in which Christian education is carried out,” the Archdiocese of Oklahoma stated in the “vision and purpose of the organization” portion of its application.

The Catholic Conference of Oklahoma’s executive director, Brett Farley, stated: “We are pleased that the board agreed with our justification and application for the country’s first religious charter school.”

Citizens United for Separation of Church and State condemned the board’s endorsement.

In a statement, the organization’s president and CEO Rachel Laser claimed that the state’s decision to open the first Christian public charter school in the US was “hard to imagine of a clearer infringement of the religious freedom of Oklahoma taxpayers and public-school families.” “The American democracy is experiencing a major transformation. In order to challenge this ruling and uphold the separation of religion and state guaranteed by the Oklahoma and U.S. Constitutions, Americans United will collaborate with our colleagues in Oklahoma and around the country.

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

The initiatives to provide parents greater choices when it comes to their child’s education, said Stitt in a statement, “are a win for religious liberty and education freedom in our wonderful state.”

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