Public Schools

Americans United preparing legal action in Oklahoma after board approves nation’s first religious public charter school

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Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s President and CEO Rachel Laser issued the following statement in response to the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board today approving the revised charter application of St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School:

“It’s hard to think of a clearer violation of the religious freedom of Oklahoma taxpayers and public-school families than the state establishing the nation’s first religious public charter school. This is a sea change for American democracy. Americans United will work with our Oklahoma and national partners to take all possible legal action to fight this decision and defend the separation of church and state that’s promised in both the Oklahoma and U.S. Constitutions.

“State and federal law are clear: Charter schools are public schools that must be secular and open to all students. No public-school family should fear that their child will be required by charter schools to take theology classes or be expelled for failing to conform to religious doctrines. And the government should never force anyone to fund religious education. In a country built on the principle of separation of church and state, public schools must never be allowed to become Sunday schools.”

AU provided detailed legal analysis explaining board should reject St. Isidore’s application

In letters, memos and in-person testimony, Americans United provided detailed legal analysis explaining why the board should reject the application from the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and Diocese of Tulsa to create the nation’s first religious public charter school, St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School.

AU also explained why former Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor’s opinion that the state should allow public charter schools to teach religious curricula was wrong and contrary to the U.S. Constitution, the Oklahoma Constitution and the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act. AU praised the Feb. 23 decision of current Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond to withdraw O’Connor’s incorrect opinion.


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.

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Liz Hayes
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