Settlement: Vermont Will Now Include Religious Schools in Voucher Program

In Vermont towns with no government schools, families can access tuition assistance to send their children to government schools in other towns or to certain secular private schools.

Families with children in religious schools could not use these funds. They’ve been fighting for 20 years to be included.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed lawsuits of behalf of families who wanted to use school vouchers for religious schools. ADF announced that the parties have reached a settlement in the cases. They’ve agreed that denying tuition assistance for religious schools was unconstitutional. From ADF:

As a result of the stipulated judgment, the education secretary and school districts are prohibited from enforcing Vermont’s discriminatory law. The school districts are also required to process families’ tuition requests fairly.

The settlement also means that the plaintiff families who requested tuition but were wrongly denied by their school districts will be reimbursed for the tuition they paid out-of-pocket.

Vermont will add religious schools to the list of approved schools.

“For more than two decades, Vermont unlawfully excluded religious schools and their students from public benefits, essentially eliminating school choice for many parents in the state, ADF attorney Paul Schmitt said. “As the U.S. Supreme Court recently concluded in Carson v. Makin, the government cannot eliminate families’ benefits just because they choose to use those benefits at religious schools that provide religious instruction.”

Photo credit: Ken Lund (Creative Commons) – Some rights reserved

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