Michigan Department of Education

Groups sue Michigan to block funding for private schools

A coalition of 13 organizations contends that a $2.5 million allocation for private schools violates the state constitution.

A coalition of education and parent groups has sued the state of Michigan to block it from providing funding to private schools.

The Detroit Free Press reports that the dispute arises out of the state budget that went into effect Oct. 1. It provides up to $2.5 million to reimburse private schools for costs associated with state-mandated requirements. Those include background checks, immunizations and compliance with state building, health and fire codes.

The lawsuit, filed in Lansing, seeks to prevent state officials from providing any of the money to schools this year. The deadline for schools to submit forms for reimbursement is June 15 and the Michigan Department of Education is required to distribute the money by Aug. 15.

"Not only is this attempt to divert tax dollars to parochial and private schools a violation of the constitution, it diverts tax dollars from the public schools they're intended to fund at precisely the time when our public schools need resources the most," says Dan Korobkin, deputy legal director for the ACLU of Michigan, one of the plaintiffs.

In addition to the ACLU, the suit has 12 other plaintiffs, including the Michigan Association of School Administrators, the Michigan Association of School Boards and the ACLU of Michigan.

[READ THE LAWSUIT]

Michigan has 643 private schools. Only private schools that are registered with Michigan Department of Education are eligible to receive funding.

Many education groups have expressed opposition to the funding since it was first proposed last year as part of the state budget, saying the Michigan Constitution bars public money from going to private schools.

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