Catholic schools and the courts
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Catholic Schools and the Courts. A short history of hard-won existence. In the beginning…. There were no “public” schools. Schools were begun by churches, operated and staffed by laypersons. The purpose of schools was both secular and religious.

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Catholic Schools and the Courts

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Catholic schools and the courts

Catholic Schools and the Courts

A short history of hard-won existence


In the beginning

In the beginning…..

  • There were no “public” schools.

  • Schools were begun by churches, operated and staffed by laypersons.

  • The purpose of schools was both secular and religious.

  • Few children attended school; fewer beyond the age of 12.


In the beginning1

In the beginning….

  • When “public” schools began, they had a religious component.

  • They were tax-supported locally; Federal involvement non-existent because of the “reserved powers”

  • The waves of immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th centuries changed the face of education.


Catholic schools

Catholic schools...

  • Came out of the European tradition

  • Proliferated because of the waves of Catholic immigrants;

  • Encountered opposition among Church leaders in the US

  • Although they were almost exclusively tuition-free, never enrolled more than 50% of the Catholic population of children.


Catholic schools1

Catholic schools...

  • Were tolerated until after WWI

  • New feelings of xenophobia

  • New anti-Catholic biases

  • Subject to state regulations

  • Came under compulsory education laws


Pierce v society of sisters 1926

Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 1926

  • 1922 compulsory ed law: every child between the ages of 8 and 16 in a public school, if they had not completed grade 8

  • Society of Sisters was Holy Names in Oregon.

  • Case decided on 14th amendment rights(saw Catholic schools same as businesses)


Meyer v nebraska 1923

Meyer v. Nebraska 1923

  • Statute that forbade the teaching of German language

  • Court held that the teacher had the right to teach German

  • Parents had the right to enroll their children in a private school that taught German language

  • State had no compelling interest


Stephens v bongart ny 1937

Stephens v. Bongart (NY) 1937

  • Is home instruction equivalent to compliance with compulsory attendance?

  • Parents failed to establish equivalency


State v massa nj 1967

State v. Massa (NJ 1967)

  • Is home schooling equivalent?

  • Does it mean compliance with compulsory attendance?

  • Parents proved equivalency of instruction


Wisconsin v yoder 1972

Wisconsin v.Yoder 1972

  • Also concerned compulsory attendance

  • Cited Pierce

  • Sincerity of religious belief

  • Established grounds for other religious exemptions, e.g. immunization, pledge to the flag, etc.


The biggie lemon v kurtzman 1971

The Biggie: Lemon v.Kurtzman 1971

  • Use of vouchers and tax credits

  • Resulted in the “Lemon Test”:

    • Primary purpose

    • Primary effect

    • Unnecessary entanglement


Esea 1965

ESEA: 1965

  • Federal entanglement

  • Use of the term “nonpublic”

  • Legislation included religious schools

  • Barrera V. Wheeler 1973: should nps services be equal or equivalent?


Esea aguilar v felton 1985

ESEA: Aguilar v. Felton 1985

  • Application of on-site service failed “Lemon” test;

  • Similar PERL suits regarding use of “religious electricity”

  • Posited on an assumption, not a fact.


Esea agostini v felton 1997

ESEA: Agostini v.Felton 1997

  • On-site services did not violate Establishment Clause provisions

  • Primary purpose: remediation of poor children

  • Aguilar had resulted in “excessive entanglement”

  • Title I has enough safeguards


Idea and special education

IDEA and Special Education

  • Zobrest 1993: student could have an interpreter

  • Russman 1996 reversed Zobrest

  • IDEA will be under reauthorization in the next Congress


Does kiryas meet the lemon test

Does Kiryas meet the “Lemon Test”?

  • Established by the Cuomo administration

  • Has been successfully challenged three times by NYSUT

  • Continues to be authorized by the NYS legislature; exists today


What s next

What’s Next?

  • Zellman-Cleveland voucher case

  • Reauthorization of IDEA

  • New programs under NCLB

  • Spitzer meeting re: AIS


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