School Choice & Charters

Lawyers: Oklahoma’s Vouchers Don’t Violate State Constitution

By Nirvi Shah — June 21, 2012 1 min read

The fight over private school vouchers for students with disabilities in Oklahoma has moved to that state’s supreme court.

The Tulsa World reported this week that a brief filed with the court on behalf of parents who used scholarships defends the vouchers.

Several school districts sued parents over the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships, saying they violate Oklahoma’s constitution, which says that public money shouldn’t be used to support religion. A lower court ruled in favor of the school districts earlier this year.

Attorneys for the Becket Fund filed the brief on behalf of the parents sued in the case. The Becket Fund is a nonprofit law firm based in Washington with a mission of protecting religious freedom. In the brief, attorneys argued that the scholarships don’t violate that provision in the constitution because the law that created them “is religiously neutral in every respect,” the newspaper said.

In recent years, vouchers designed especially for students with disabilities have become popular. Many are created to open the door to private school vouchers for a larger cross section of students. Only about 150 students with disabilities used the vouchers in Oklahoma this year.

The Becket Fund attorneys said the lower court judge who ruled the scholarships unconstitutional didn’t do an adequate job of explaining her ruling.

“In sum, the district court’s failure to provide any explanation of why it struck the Scholarship Act is understandable because there is no possible explanation,” attorneys wrote in the brief, the newspaper said. “The Scholarship Act complies fully with the Oklahoma Constitution.”

The Union and Jenks school districts have until June 29 to respond to the brief.

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.