Michigan Supreme Court declines to weigh in on public money for private schools

Oct 5, 2016

Private and parochial schools in Michigan will be allowed apply for grants that reimburse them for some state-ordered health and safety programs.

That’s despite a provision in the state constitution that forbids direct or indirect taxpayer support for private or religious schools.

Governor Rick Snyder asked the Michigan Supreme Court to weigh in after Republicans in the Legislature decided to test the limits of the ban. The court declined that request Wednesday.

“Since the budget does have the money there, and there’s sort of a non-decision today, we are moving forward with it,” said Kurt Weiss, spokesman for the State Budget Office.

But Don Wotruba, executive director of the Michigan Association of School Boards, says that’s not legal.

“Our constitution very clearly says no direct or indirect aid should go to private schools, and this is an appropriation from the state of Michigan of $2.5 million dollars for private schools.”

Wotruba says public school groups will decide before the end of the year whether to begin a full legal challenge to the budget provision – one that could eventually put the issue back before the state Supreme Court.