Supporters of school choice just scored a massive courtroom victory in Vermont.
According to the terms of a recent settlement reached between parents and the Vermont government, Vermont can no longer deny parents access to tuition money based on a school’s “religious status, affiliation, beliefs, exercise, or activities.”
In other words, thanks to the victory, Vermont parents who qualify for tuition benefits from the state can now use those benefits to pay for the private school of their choice, regardless of the school’s religious status.
Further, those who were previously denied funds on the basis of those religious qualities must be reimbursed for the denied funds.
The Institute for Justice, which helped the Vermont families fight the lawsuit and defend religious liberty in their state, tweeted about the victory. In the tweet, it said, “Yesterday’s settlement brings Vermont in line with IJ’s landmark Supreme Court victories and ensures that families, not the government, choose which schools are best for their children, including secular or religious private schools.”
Yesterday's settlement brings Vermont in line with IJ’s landmark Supreme Court victories and ensures that families, not the government, choose which schools are best for their children, including secular or religious private schools.#schoolchoicehttps://t.co/Bwg6ktakWR
— Institute for Justice (@IJ) February 17, 2023
IJ Attorney David Hodges also commented on the victory, saying “This settlement guarantees that any Vermont family eligible for tuition benefits can use those benefits to find the best education that meets their kids’ needs. Vermonters will no longer have their civil rights violated when they send their children to schools that happen to be religious.”
The Institute for Justice also, in the article it tweeted out, provided context for the case and some background on the brave families who brought the lawsuit to defend religious liberty and ensure their kids got a proper education. In the article, it said:
Vermont’s program allows parents in “tuitioning” towns to receive funds to attend qualifying private schools anywhere in the world. With today’s settlement, families will no longer be forbidden from using those funds to send their children to religiously affiliated schools. Also under the settlement, residents of several school districts will also be eligible for reimbursements if they were denied tuition based on religion. Rutland Town School District and Hartland School District will reimburse residents who were wrongly denied tuition during the 2019-20 school year or later. The Ludlow Mount Holly Unified Union School District will do the same for the 2020-21 school year or later. Residents have until Monday, April 10 to seek reimbursement.
The Valente family in the small town of Mount Holly are one such family that stands to benefit from today’s settlement. Michael and Nancy Valente send their son, Dominic, to Mount St. Joseph Academy, a private Catholic school. The school meets all the state’s qualifications in its statute for the tuition assistance program. But under state policy, the Valentes could not use the tuition assistance program to pay for Dominic’s education at Mount St. Joseph, simply because of the school’s religious affiliation. Now, the Valentes and other families like them can use the tuition benefits the state gives them to help pay for their children’s education.
The father, Michael Valente, said “Not every Vermonter has access to a local public school. Now families like mine have the ability to pick the best school for their children, regardless of whether the school is religious or not.”
Hopefully the victory will help parents teach their kids how to live well and correctly and cut back on the number of children indoctrinated into the leftist worldview by public schools.
By: Will Tanner. Follow me on Twitter @Will_Tanner_1