The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has made plenty of headlines this year, and the education space hasn't been spared from the court's opinion. In July, SCOTUS issued an opinion in Carson v. Makin, ultimately requiring a state to provide funds to a religious school as part of a tuition assistance program.
The facts of the Carson case are relatively straightforward. The state of Maine has, for the last twenty years, enforced a law that prohibits state funding of religious education programs. This law has been unsuccessfully challenged over the years, but the Carson decision now upturns that preexisting legal precedent. Specifically, SCOTUS holds that if a state provides a tuition voucher program, it can't exclude religious schools from that program.
Until the Carson decision, one could assume there would be separation of church and state, but now taxpayer state funding may be allocated for a student to attend a private school when their town doesn't have a public school, even when that private school is a religious school.
Restrictions That Apply to Schools Receiving Public Funding
Proponents of school vouchers will see this case as a win, but there are some unique drawbacks. Of course, many people are also upset about the blending of state funds with religious programs, now occurring as a result of the Carson decision. What parents and students may not anticipate, however, is that private schools that receive public funding may become newly subject to Civil Rights laws.
For now, the Carson decision concerns state funding, but it opens a door for the application of federal funding in a similar scenario. Schools that don't receive federal funding don't have to adhere to Civil Rights laws. This can prove especially beneficial for private religious schools who want to prohibit LGBTQ+ relationships on campus. The big question will become whether these schools now have to comply with laws like Title IX or if they will benefit from some new exception carved out, especially for voucher programs.
You Should Talk to a Student Defense Attorney
Determining when and how laws apply in school settings can be difficult. Not only do laws change, but so does the guidance surrounding how the laws are interpreted. This ever-moving target proves difficult for parents and students alike, and if you or someone you love faces a potential violation of student rights, or discipline for academic misconduct, sexual misconduct, or student misconduct on campus, you need to speak with an experienced attorney-advisor immediately.
Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento is vastly experienced in student discipline defense throughout the nation, in both public and private school settings. To learn how Attorney Lento and his dedicated team at the Lento Law Firm can help you, call 888-535-3686 or contact us online.