Michigan Supreme Court to Decide if State Can Provide Private and Religious Schools With Funds to Maintain Health Guidelines

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Michigan’s highest court heard oral arguments in a case over whether the state can provide funds to private and religious schools to maintain state-mandated health and safety regulations, despite a state constitutional amendment barring public funding of nonpublic schools.

The Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in the case of Council of Organizations and Others for Education about Parochiaid v. State of Michigan.

At issue was a law passed in 2016 that allocated $2.5 million to reimburse private schools for the cost of complying with state-mandated health, safety, and welfare regulations.

The lawsuit against reimbursing private schools filed by a coalition of groups, including the ACLU of Michigan, Michigan Parents for Schools, Middle Cities Education Association, and Kalamazoo Public Schools.

According to critics, the allocation violates Article VIII, Section 2 of the state constitution, passed in 1970 as Proposal C, which prohibits public funds from going to nonpublic schools and states:

“No public monies or property shall be appropriated or paid or any public credit utilized, by the legislature or any other political subdivision or agency of the state directly or indirectly to aid or maintain any private, denominational or other nonpublic, pre-elementary, elementary, or secondary school,” reads the section.

“No payment, credit, tax benefit, exemption or deductions, tuition voucher, subsidy, grant or loan of public monies or property shall be provided, directly or indirectly, to support the attendance of any student or the employment of any person at any such nonpublic school or at any location or institution where instruction is offered in whole or in part to such nonpublic school students.”

In an amicus brief, the Michigan Catholic Conference and the Michigan Association of Non-Public Schools argue that the state amendment is anti-Catholic and should be struck down.

“Proposal C, colloquially called the ‘Parochiaid Amendment,’ was intended to prevent Catholic schools, specifically, from receiving the same state funding as Protestant-influenced public schools. Indeed, the term ‘Parochiaid’ itself is strong evidence of this intent,” they said.

Public Funds Public Schools, a national campaign opposed to public aid of private schools, filed an amicus brief arguing that the amendment protects public schools from losing funds.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski