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Oklahoma AG: Religious virtual charter school approval unconstitutional

Legal action is likely after a contract is signed, he said.

Published: June 5, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

(The Center Square) - The approval of a virtual charter school application for St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School granted Monday is unconstitutional, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond said.

The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board approved the application by a vote of 3-2. The school would be the first of its kind in the country, Drummond said. But legal action is likely after a contract is signed, he said.

“The approval of any publicly funded religious school is contrary to Oklahoma law and not in the best interest of taxpayers,” Drummond said. “It’s extremely disappointing that board members violated their oath in order to fund religious schools with our tax dollars. In doing so, these members have exposed themselves and the State to potential legal action that could be costly.”

The board rejected the proposal in April. It has the support of Oklahoma Superintendent of Instruction Ryan Walters.

"I encouraged the board to approve this monumental decision and now the U.S.' first religious charter school will be welcomed by my administration," Walters said in a statement. "I have fought for school choice in all forms and this further empowers parents."

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an education package that includes school choice credits for parents last month.

This is a win for religious liberty and education freedom in our great state, and I am encouraged by these efforts to give parents more options when it comes to their child’s education," Stitt said. "Oklahomans support religious liberty for all and support an increasingly innovative educational system that expands choice."

Americans United for Separation of Church and State said they are preparing legal action.

"It’s hard to think of a clearer violation of the religious freedom of Oklahoma taxpayers and public-school families than the state establishing the nation’s first religious public charter school, said Rachel Laser, the organization's president, in a statement. "This is a sea change for American democracy. Americans United will work with our Oklahoma and national partners to take all possible legal action to fight this decision and defend the separation of church and state that’s promised in both the Oklahoma and U.S. Constitutions."

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