A faith-based law firm, with offices across the country, helps families increase their access to religious education.
Under Vermont’s Town Tuition Program, those who live in communities that do not have high schools can receive assistance to attend any school, public or private, except religious schools.
But Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is determined to close that loophole, which has been the norm in Vermont for more than 20 years. But Paul Schmitt, ADF legal adviser, is trying to change that.
In June, the United States Court of Appeals ruled that excluding families from religious schools violated the constitution. As a result, Schmitt obtained an injunction, which allowed his clients, who had previously been denied access, to attend Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington.
Fast forward to this week, Schmitt filed a petition in the Federal District Court to have the state uphold the June ruling.
“Families who choose to use their advantage in religious schools deserve the same advantage as their neighbors,” Schmitt said.
Rice Memorial High School principal Lisa Lorenz said the injunction allowed nearly 20 families to attend the school.
“Families are cartwheels and they are really excited to have the choice,” said Lorenz.
She says a majority of those students commute from the islands and the northern part of the state. But while they can attend any religious school they choose under the injunction, Schmitt wants the state to make a permanent decision.
“That’s what this motion aims to do. It aims to bring a final resolution to this problem so that families do not have to go back to court to enforce their rights and benefits, ”said Schmitt.
He says he expects to have a response from the court in about a month and hopes the case will be resolved by the end of the year.