Monday, the Oklahoma school board approved via votes what would be the first publicly funded religious school in the nation, despite caution from the state’s attorney general that the decision was unconstitutional.
Oklahoma School Board Approves To Fund Religious School
The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board settled with a vote of 3-2 to approve the application by the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma to establish the St. Isidore of Seville Virtual Charter School. The online public charter school would be available to students nationwide from kindergarten through grade 12.
However, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond had warned the board that such a decision violated the Oklahoma Constitution.
Fox News reported that Drummond said that the approval of any publicly financed religious school is contrary to Oklahoma law and not in the best interest of taxpayers. Moreover, Drummond was disappointed that the board members violated their oath to fund religious schools with the people’s tax money.
This action leads to potential legal action and this could be costly.
The Archdiocese of Oklahoma had expressed that the vision and purpose of the organization is that the Catholic school participates in the evangelizing mission of the Church and is the privileged environment in which Christian education is carried out.
Brett Farley, the executive director of the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma, said they are elated that the board agreed to support them and their application for the nation’s first religious charter school.
The Americans United For Separation Of Church And State Criticized The board’s Approval
The Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s president and CEO Rachel Laser said in a statement that the board had violated the religious freedom of Oklahoma taxpayers and public school families that the state established the nation’s first religious public charter school. This move is a chance for American democracy.
According to Laser, Americans United will function with Oklahoma and national partners to be accountable for the possible legal action to combat the decision and support the separation of church and state that’s promised in both the Oklahoma and US Constitutions.
Despite Drummond’s opposition approving to funding a religious school, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt and other Republican leaders in Oklahoma are all supporting the program.
Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who earlier this year signed the bill that would provide parents in the state a tax incentive to send their children to private schools, including religious schools, complimented the board’s vote.
Stitt said in a statement that this approval is a success for religious freedom and education liberty in the state and he was also motivated by the board’s efforts to give parents more options when it comes to their child’s education.