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Oklahoma Supreme Court rules Catholic charter school contract is unconstitutional

St. Isidore was given the green light as the nation's first publicly-funded religious charter school in October 2023.
Public Religious School Oklahoma
Posted at 1:10 PM, Jun 25, 2024

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the virtual Catholic charter school St. Isidore violates state statutes, the state constitution and the Establishment Clause.

In October 2023, the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board gave the green light for the nation's first publicly-funded religious charter school, Saint Isidore of Seville Virtual Catholic Charter School, in Oklahoma City.

The same month, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond filed a lawsuit against the board to try and stop it from being funded by the state.

Here's what Drummond had to say then:

Oklahoma attorney general sues over religious virtual charter school

The Oklahoma Supreme Court said under Oklahoma law, a charter school is a public school.

The decision orders the state Charter School Board to rescind its contract with St. Isidore.

Attorney General Drummond released this statement about the decision:

“This decision is a tremendous victory for religious liberty. 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. Now Oklahomans can be assured that our tax dollars will not fund the teachings of Sharia Law or even Satanism. While I understand that the Governor and other politicians are disappointed with this outcome, I hope that the people of Oklahoma can rejoice that they will not be compelled to fund radical religious schools that violate their faith.”

Gov. Stitt had this to say about the decision:

“I’m concerned we’ve sent a troubling message that religious groups are second-class participants in our education system. Charter schools are incredibly popular in Oklahoma – and all we’re saying is: we can’t choose who gets state dollars based on a private entity’s religious status.

Religious freedom is foundational to our values, and today's decision undermines that freedom and restricts the choices available to Oklahomans. I’m disappointed by AG Drummond’s attack on religious liberty and the school choice movement, but I remain hopeful the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case and grant St. Isidore the right to establish their school.”

Archbishop Paul Coakley and Bishop David Konderla released this statement:

Today’s ruling is very disappointing for the hundreds of prospective students and their families from across the state of Oklahoma who desired the educational experience and promise of St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School. We will consider all legal options and remain steadfast in our belief that St. Isidore would have and could still be a valuable asset to students, regardless of socioeconomic, race or faith backgrounds.

Scripps News Tulsa reached out to State Superintendent Ryan Walters for comment and is waiting to hear back.

This story was originally published by Jennifer Maupin at Scripps News Tulsa.