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MI Supreme Court rules non-public schools can get state funds

Michigan Supreme Court
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
The Michigan Supreme Court

A deadlock on the state Supreme Court could allow taxpayer funds to go to religious and other non-public schools. The money would partially reimburse the schools for the costs of complying with health and safety mandates.

The court deadlocked 3-3 and one justice abstained. That left standing a lower court ruling that non-public schools can be reimbursed for some expenses. That’s despite a 1970 voter-approved amendment that says public funds cannot support non-public schools. 

Republican-led legislatures voted for budgets to test the limits of the amendment while then-Governor Rick Snyder went along.

Tom Hickson is with the Michigan Catholic Conference.

“Certainly it’s something that we think was a good victory and we look forward to seeing the funds flow on this,” Hickson said.

Peter Spadafore is with the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators. He said the decision is disappointing to public school advocates.Public dollars should remain in public classrooms.

"This ruling flies in the face of that inten," Spadafore said. "We are very  disappointed, and we are currently seeking other legal remedies and options that that may be available.”

Spadafore said that includes seeking a re-hearing and, possibly, a new ruling next year when there will be a new justice serving on the Supreme Court.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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