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Oklahoma AG sues to block the approval of a state funded Catholic charter school

The Oklahoma AG said the approval of a Catholic charter school, the first approved religious charter school in the U.S. that would receive taxpayer funding, violates the U.S. Constitution.

Published: October 22, 2023 11:24pm

(The Center Square) -

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond said the approval of a Catholic charter school by the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board violates the U.S. Constitution.

Drummond filed a lawsuit with the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Friday against the board and its members, challenging its approval of the St. Isidore of Seville Virtual Charter School earlier this week. The school is the first approved religious charter school in the U.S. that would receive taxpayer funding.

“There is no religious freedom in compelling Oklahomans to fund religions that may violate their own deeply held beliefs,” Drummond said. “The framers of the U.S. Constitution and those who drafted Oklahoma’s Constitution clearly understood how best to protect religious freedom: by preventing the State from sponsoring any religion at all.”

The attorney general said the approval could have unintended consequences and asked the court to dismiss the board's action.

"Because of the legal precedent created by the Board’s actions, tomorrow we may be forced to fund radical Muslim teachings like Sharia law," Drummond said. "In fact, Governor Stitt has already indicated that he would welcome a Muslim charter school funded by our tax dollars. That is a gross violation of our religious liberty."

Stitt called the lawsuit a political stunt.

"AG Drummond seems to lack any firm grasp on the constitutional principle of religious freedom and masks his disdain for the Catholics’ pursuit by obsessing over non-existent schools that don’t neatly align with his religious preference. His discriminatory and ignorant comment concerning a potential Muslim charter is a perfect illustration," Stitt said in a statement. "The creation of St. Isadore’s is a win for religious and education freedom in Oklahoma. We want parents to be able to choose the education that is best for their kids, regardless of income

Drummond said the approval is a waste of taxpayer's money.

“At a time when Oklahoma students underperform their peers across the country in every subject, why would we spend one penny of our tax dollars educating them on Catholicism, Sharia law or any other religious teaching?" Drummond said. "I would prefer we focus on reading proficiency so they can read the Bible at home with their family."

The charter school board did not respond to a message seeking comment.