AP

Vermont settles religious schools tuition lawsuits

Dec 1, 2022, 3:04 PM | Updated: 3:36 pm

The Vermont Agency of Education and several school districts will pay tuition costs and legal fees to five families to settle lawsuits challenging the state’s practice of not paying for students to attend religious schools if their towns do not have a public school.

In court filings late Wednesday, the two sides agreed to dismiss the two lawsuits in the aftermath of a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said Maine schools cannot exclude religious schools from a program that offers tuition aid for private education.

Like Maine, Vermont pays tuition for students living in towns that do not have a public school to attend other public schools or approved private schools of their choice. Following the Supreme Court decision, Vermont Education Secretary Daniel French sent a letter to the state’s superintendents in September saying the state’s school districts “may not deny tuition payments to religious approved independent schools or religious independent schools that meet educational quality standards.”

In Vermont, four families in 2020 had sued French, the boards of school directors for South Hero, Georgia and the Champlain Islands Unified Union School District, and the superintendents of Grand Isle Supervisory Union and the Franklin West Supervisory Union. In February, another family with two students sued French, the superintendent of Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union and the Barstow Unified Union School board of schools directors.

Under the settlements, the districts will pay the five families for the costs of sending their children to religious school as well as some attorneys’ fees. The Education Agency is also paying part of the lawyer fees.

“This allows tuition paying school districts to move forward with clarity, understanding that they must pay tuition to all approved independent schools regardless of religious affiliation,” Ted Fisher, a spokesperson for the Vermont Agency of Education said in a statement.

Paul Schmitt, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal advocacy group, said Thursday that the settlements will prevent more litigation.

“All parents should be able to send their kids to schools that are the best fit for them, and the First Amendment protects parents’ right to choose religious schools.” Schmitt said in a statement.

In Maine this fall, Cheverus High School, a Jesuit college preparatory school in Portland, was the only religious school to apply for participation in the state’s tuition reimbursement plan and its application was approved by the state, a state official said in September.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

9 hours ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

2 days ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

9 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

9 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

11 days ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Vermont settles religious schools tuition lawsuits