OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Scott Pruitt Tuesday announced the filing of a brief in the Oklahoma Supreme Court defending the Lindsey Nicole Henry scholarship fund.
The Lindsey Nicole Henry Act established a scholarship fund for parents of disabled children to receive scholarship money to send their children to a private K-12 school.
The scholarships must be used at one of more than 50 participating schools, some of which, but not all, are sectarian. The brief, filed with the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday, seeks to reverse the ruling of a district court that disallowed the scholarship fund to be used at sectarian schools merely because they are sectarian.
“I have always contended that the Lindsey Nicole Henry scholarship program is constitutionally valid and should continue to empower parents of students with disabilities to seek educational opportunities to help their children learn and succeed,” Attorney General Pruitt said.
“The effect of the district court’s ruling requires the State Department of Education to engage in an intrusive and in-depth analysis as to the religiosity of each school and deny participation based on how religious a school is. This sort of intrusive inquiry is prohibited by the First Amendment of the federal constitution.”
From the brief:
It is not that the district court’s reasoning requires the State Department of Education to determine how religious private sectarian schools are, but rather that in determining whether a school is a “sectarian institution” in the first instance, the State Department of Education must engage in an intrusive inquiry that will result in it distinguishing between merely “religious-affiliated schools” and more deeply religious “sectarian schools.