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ACLU asks Michigan Supreme Court to hear public money to private schools appeal

2nd grade teacher Kim Fox integrates fun into her class lessons at North Godwin Elementary in Wyoming, Michigan.
Sarah Hulett
Michigan Radio
2nd grade teacher Kim Fox integrates fun into her class lessons at North Godwin Elementary in Wyoming, Michigan.

Public school advocates and the ACLU of Michigan want the Michigan Supreme Court to take their case. They want the court to reverse a decision that lets the state give public money to private schools in certain cases.

In 2017, a coalition of public education leaders and parent groups filed a lawsuit. They wanted to prevent the state from giving five million dollars to non-public schools, over two years. The money is for state mandated things – like safety drills and health requirements.

“Diverting these funds away from public schools, at a time when really the public schools need these funds more than ever before, is a very important and significant issue for our state,” said Dan Korobkin, an attorney with the ACLU.

Supporters of giving the money to non-public schools say this is about treating all of the state’s kids equally. But opponents say the move is unconstitutional.

“The Michigan constitution cannot be clearer in saying that it is prohibited to fund private schools with tax payer dollars,” said Korobkin.

The state Attorney General’s office represents the state in this case. A spokesperson says the office can’t comment on pending litigation.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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