OKLAHOMA CITY — Americans United for Separation of Church and State, American Civil Liberties Union, Education Law Center and Freedom From Religion Foundation – the organizations litigating the lawsuit to stop Oklahoma from sponsoring and funding the nation’s first religious public charter school – issued the following joint statement in response to the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board voting today to approve a contract with St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School:
“The Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board is continuing on a misguided path to create the nation’s first religious public charter school in clear violation of Oklahoma law and the state’s promise of church-state separation and public schools that are open to all. The board is ignoring the legal and public education experts, religious freedom advocates, and Oklahoma taxpayers who all oppose St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School – a public school that plans to discriminate against students, families, and staff and indoctrinate students into one religion. Our plaintiffs are fighting the approval of St. Isidore in court because they are committed to public schools that welcome and serve all Oklahomans.”
Lawsuit filed to stop the nation’s first religious public charter school
AU, ACLU, ELC & FFRF, supported by Oklahoma-based counsel Odom & Sparks PLLC and J. Douglas Mann, on July 31 filed the lawsuit OKPLAC, Inc. v. Statewide Virtual Charter School Board on behalf of nine Oklahoma residents and a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting public education in Oklahoma. The plaintiffs are faith leaders, public school parents, and public education advocates who object to their tax dollars funding a public charter school that will discriminate against students and families based on their religion and LGBTQ+ status, fail to adequately serve students with disabilities, and indoctrinate students into one religion.
The lawsuit charges that the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board violated the Oklahoma Constitution, the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act, and the board’s own regulations when it approved St. Isidore’s application for charter-school sponsorship on June 5, 2023.
The plaintiffs in OKPLAC, Inc. v. Statewide Virtual Charter School Board include OKPLAC (Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee), Melissa Abdo, Krystal Bonsall, Leslie Briggs, Brenda Lené, Michele Medley, Dr. Bruce Prescott, the Rev. Dr. Mitch Randall, the Rev. Dr. Lori Walke, and Erika Wright.
The team of attorneys that represents the plaintiffs is led by Alex J. Luchenitser and Kenneth D. Upton Jr. of Americans United and includes Kalli A. Joslin of Americans United; Daniel Mach and Heather L. Weaver of the ACLU; Robert Kim, Jessica Levin, and Wendy Lecker of Education Law Center; Patrick Elliott of FFRF; Benjamin H. Odom, John H. Sparks, Michael W. Ridgeway, and Lisa M. Millington of Odom & Sparks; and J. Douglas Mann.
Americans United is a religious freedom advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, AU educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.
Associate Vice President of Communications