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Why Shouldn’t Religious Schools Get Funding for Special Education?

A group of Jewish parents and schools are fighting California for equal access to government money
Dr. Michael (Avi) Helfand is a Senior Fellow of the Kogod Research Center at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. He is currently the Brenden Mann Foundation Chair in Law and Religion and Co-Director of the Nootbaar Institute for Law, Religion and Ethics at Pepperdine Caruso School of Law as well as Florence Rogatz Visiting Professor at Yale Law School. Avi received his J.D. from Yale Law School and his Ph.D. in Political Science

Religious schools in California can’t get state funding for special education, even if they satisfy all secular legal requirements. A group of Jewish parents and schools recently asked a federal court to stop California from enforcing the law, which prohibits religious schools from becoming state-certified special needs schools. The government provides funds to support eligible students in all other certified special needs schools.

Over the past two decades, the U.S. Supreme Court has not only made clear the First Amendment allows states to include religious schools in government funding programs; it has also made clear that once a state makes funding generally available to private schools, excluding religious schools constitutes religious discrimination prohibited by the First Amendment.

Read the complete opinion piece in the Forward.

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