Oklahoma’s attorney general on Oct. 20 sued to stop what would be the first publicly funded religious school in the United States.
Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond, a Republican, said that a state board’s approval of a Catholic school would, if not stopped, lead to other religious schools being approved.
“Absent the intervention of this court, the board members’ shortsighted votes in violation of their oath of office and the law will pave the way for a proliferation of the direct public funding of religious schools whose tenets are diametrically opposed by most Oklahomans,” the suit, filed with the Oklahoma Supreme Court, stated.
“Because of the legal precedent created by the Board’s actions, tomorrow we may be forced to fund radical Muslim teachings like Sharia law,” Mr. Drummond said in a statement.
The approval came despite the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, the school’s sponsor, saying the school would be “Catholic in teaching, Catholic in employment and Catholic in every way.”
The Oklahoma Constitution says that public schools shall be “free from sectarian control. It also says that “no public money … shall ever be appropriated … or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system or religion … of sectarian institution.”
The law that governs the board’s procedures for approving charter school applications, meanwhile, says the procedures must adhere to the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act, which says in part that a charter school “shall be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and all other operations.”
Despite those facts, the members of the board that voted for the approval “violated their plain legal duty to deny” the application, the suit states. “Accordingly, this court must remediate the board’s unlawful action.”
Another suit was filed over the approval earlier this year, but is still ongoing.
Brett Farley, a lobbyist representing the archdiocese, previously told the Associated Press that it was confident the court would ultimately rule in favor of the new school.
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