by Kate Anderson
A group of parents in Minnesota filed a lawsuit against Democratic Gov. Tim Walz Wednesday over a new law amending the Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program to prohibit granting funds to schools that require a “faith statement.”
Walz signed a $72 billion budget Wednesday that included an amendment to the PSEO program, barring students who wish to attend a school requiring a “faith statement” from using funds from the program, according to the budget. Several parents filed a lawsuit later that day with Becket Law against the governor, state Commissioner Of Education Willie Jett and the state Department of Education (DOE) over the new rule, arguing that it unfairly discriminates against their children who wish to attend Christian colleges.
“The PSEO program guarantees all students equal opportunity to pursue excellent academics at a school of their choice,” plaintiffs Mark and Melinda Loe, said in a press release.“It gave our older children a head start on college in Christ-centered communities at Northwestern and Crown. All we want is for the rest of our children to have the same opportunity to be educated in an environment consistent with their religious beliefs. Rather than discriminating against people of faith, Minnesota should be looking for ways to help all students find a school that best fits their interests and values.”
The state’s PSEO program gives 10th through 12th-grade students an opportunity to “earn college credit tuition free while still in high school, through enrollment in and successful completion of college courses” on a full or part-time basis, according to the state’s DOE website. Walz’s new budget explains that higher education institutions are no longer eligible for PSEO funding if they require a statement of faith from students or “base any part of the admission decision on a student’s race, creed, ethnicity, disability, gender, or sexual orientation or religious beliefs or affiliations.”
The lawsuit argues, however, that the question of whether religious schools can receive religious funding has been addressed by the Supreme Court, most recently in Carson v. Makin, when the justices ruled that Maine’s “nonsectarian” requirement was a violation of the First Amendment.
“States discriminating against religion have already struck out three times at the Supreme Court,” the lawsuit reads. “Minnesota should not get a fourth attempt. Specifically in the education context, the Court has emphasized equal treatment because ‘religious schools and the families whose children attend them . . . are ‘member[s] of the community too.’”
A Minnesota DOE spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the department had “received the lawsuit” and is “currently reviewing it.”
Becket, Walz and Jett did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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Kate Anderson is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Tim Walz” by Tim Walz.