Court Upholds Public Funding Going to Michigan Private Schools
Public funding will continue being disbursed to private schools in Michigan. The Michigan State Supreme Court is refusing to rehear arguments in a case it has already decided where it upheld a lower court ruling that ruled private schools should be reimbursed by the state for costs to meet state-ordered obligations. The Detroit News reports it was a split decision. The decision allows a Michigan Court of Appeals decision on the issue to stand.
At issue is whether public funds should be funneled to private schools. In this particular case, it is allowed for that to happen when private schools must spend money to meet state-required actions or services. Those include things like running fire drills, conducting security and background checks on prospective instructors, inspections, and a range of record-keeping requirements.
The legal challenge developed after the Michigan Legislature approved covering the financial costs during the Snyder Administration and Governor Snyder approved the funding. A parent group along with public school administrators sued, claiming the funding is not allowed. And as that litigation was being processed, the state reimbursement to private schools grew to over $5 million by 2018.
Private school attorneys have argued from the start that reimbursements for state-mandated items is not the same as general funding for the schools. Public schools have argued that a 1970 constitutional amendment bars public financing for private schools. A State Court of Claims Judge ruled the spending unconstitutional but then was overturned by a state Appeals Court panel in 2018.