Michigan Supreme Court will hear case over private school funding

    Michigan Supreme Court | Susan J. Demas

    The Michigan Supreme Court will hear a case challenging public funding to the state’s non-public schools, brought by a group of public schools and their advocates.

    In an order issued Monday, the state Supreme Court said it would re-evaluate the plaintiffs’ argument that it is unconstitutional for Michigan to reimburse private schools for state-mandated spending not related to education. A Michigan Court of Appeals panel previously in 2018 ruled against them.

    Stephen Markman
    State Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman | Michigan Supreme Court

    The payments were authorized as part of the 2017 fiscal year budget passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature. In a concurring opinion Monday, state Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman said: “Whether [the law] is ultimately sustained, or nullified, it is long past time that this Court … determine decisively which of these outcomes is warranted, so that the product of our legislative process is no longer maintained in limbo.”

    Dan Korobkin of the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which represents two of the plaintiffs, celebrated the decision in a statement. Korobkin said the current law “diverts tax dollars from the public schools they’re intended to fund at precisely the time when our public schools need resources the most,” and that “public money should only be spent on public schools.”

    Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Diane Stevens had ruled the spending unconstitutional before the Court of Appeals’ October 2018 ruling, saying the state’s argument that the money would not be used for educational purposes was inaccurate.

    The case will be heard by the Michigan Supreme Court after Aug. 1, during its next term.

    Derek Robertson
    Derek Robertson covers local government, education, health care and the social safety net, and LGBTQ issues. Previously, he wrote for Politico Magazine in Washington, and before that covered local politics in Chicago. He is a Genesee County native and graduate of both Wayne State University, where he studied history, and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He enjoys film, the Detroit Pistons and his cat. He once competed in the National Spelling Bee, but was eliminated before any potential ESPN appearances.

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