Makin decision prohibited excluding tuition payments to religious schools
By Guy Page and Timothy Page
The Vermont Senate has introduced its long-promised work-around of a U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring towns with no high schools to provide tuition to approved, independent religious schools.
S66 would require school districts with no high schools to designate up to three schools to choose from – either public or an approved independent schools.
However, the bill also would dramatically redefine what constitutes an approved independent school. Without mentioning the religious nature (if any) of the school, the bill requires independent schools “eligible for designation” meet at least three of the four requirements:
- The recognized independent school serves as a regional CTE center [tech school] as defined in section 1522 of this title.
- The recognized independent school was established through the granting of a charter by the Vermont General Assembly.
- The recognized independent school qualified as a public school under the definition of “public school” in effect on June 30, 1991.
- The recognized independent school is designated under state law as an employer of teachers as defined by law covering the State Teachers’ Retirement System of Vermont.
The crafters of S66 appear to have identified the unique origins and hiring practices of religious schools (such as Rice Memorial High School, a Catholic parochial school in South Burlington) and written the new requirements accordingly – without explicitly mentioning religion or any conflict with LGBTQ-related hiring and curriculum that, among other issues, senators last year said they found objectionable about paying public tuition to these schools.
Most religious schools were founded because state schools were deemed incompatible with religious values and practices, and thus have no charter from the General Assembly. Also, most religious schools do not follow union-based hiring and compensation applying to public school teachers.
The sponsors are:
- Sen. Ruth Hardy (lead sponsor)
- Sen. Ann Cummings
- Sen. Martine Gulick
- Sen. Virginia Lyons
- Sen. Mark MacDonald
- Sen. Richard McCormack
- Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale
- Sen. Tanya Vyhovsky
- Sen. Anne Watson
- Sen. Rebecca White
- Sen. Irene Wrenner
At present, school districts that lack their own high schools may now, at the parents’ request, tuition students to parochial and other religious schools. This recent development followed a U.S. Supreme Court decision of Carson V. Makin and a subsequent legal settlement with the State of Vermont, negotiated on behalf of parents by the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Before the U.S. Supreme Court decision, the tuition program was available to districts without a public high school, helping high schoolers to attend a private school – a secular one – of their choice. High school students in Maine fell under a similar program that was also excluding religious schools until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Makin that the state was unlawfully discriminating against them.
If S66 becomes law, it could face a legal challenge due to it being an attempted ‘workaround’ of the Makin decision prohibiting unlawful discrimination.
Senators last session repeatedly said they were frustrated in their efforts to find an acceptable legal solution to requiring tuition payments to parochial schools. They promised a bill would be introduced this year.
All bills introduced into the 2023-24 session to date. Current through February 7, 2023. For more information see http://www.legislature.vermont.gov
|Bill #||Introduced||Title||Lead Sponsor||Sponsor party||Committee|
|S.66||2/7/2023||New requirements for tuition to independent schools||Hardy||Democrat||Education|
|S.65||2/7/2023||Insurance to cover epinephrine auto-injectors||Vyhovsky/ Lyons||Dem./ Prog.||Finance|
|S.64||2/7/2023||Regulates loud exhaust, idling, child restraints. Bike lanes required||White||Democrat||Transportation|
|S.63||2/7/2023||Medicaid cover three rounds of in-vitro fertilization||Hardy||Democrat||Finance|
|S.62||2/7/2023||Provides personal leave due domestic and sexual violence||Ram Hinsdale||Democrat||Economic Development|
|S.61||2/7/2023||Expands the income eligibility for Medicare Savings Programs||Cummings||Democrat||Health & Welfare|
|S.60||2/7/2023||Authorizes municipal adoption of local option taxes||Chittenden/ Ram Hinsdale||Democrat||Finance|
|S.59||2/3/2023||Replaces State-owned heating systems||Perchlik||Dem./ Prog.||Institutions|
|S.58||2/2/2023||Increasing the penalties for repeat drug trafficking||Sears||Democrat||Judiciary|
|S.57||2/2/2023||Allows towns and cities to regulate (but not prohibit) firearm use||Clarkson||Democrat||Government Operations|
|S.56||2/1/2023||Public preschool and other childcare, education changes||Lyons/ Hardy||Democrat||Health & Welfare|
|S.55||2/1/2023||Allows public bodies to meet online||Clarkson||Democrat||Government Operations|
|S.54||2/1/2023||Maintains separation of insurance markets in VT Health Connect||Cummings||Democrat||Finance|
|S.53||2/1/2023||Creates a Vermont Climate Corps work program||Ram Hinsdale||Democrat||Economic Development|
|S.52||1/31/2023||Ensures State health insurance eligibility regardless immigration status||Hardy||Democrat||Health & Welfare|
|S.51||1/31/2023||Amends authority to investigate claims of abuse of vulnerable adults||Lyons||Democrat||Health & Welfare|
|S.50||1/31/2023||Protects patient access to, payment for health care||Cummings||Democrat||Finance|
|S.49||1/31/2023||Enhances genetic and consumer health information privacy||Lyons||Democrat||Economic Development|
|S.48||1/31/2023||Regulating sale of catalytic converters||Chittenden||Democrat||Economic Development|
|S.47||1/27/2023||Transport of individuals to psychiatric care||Lyons/ Sears||Democrat||Health & Welfare|
|S.46||1/27/2023||Ensure rights to independent auto repair||Gulick||Democrat||Economic Development|
|S.45||1/27/2023||Establishes elective income tax on pass-through businesses||Chittenden||Dem./ Rep.||Finance|
|S.44||1/27/2023||Manufacturers pay for household hazardous products collection||Bray||Democrat||Natural Resources|
|S.43||1/26/2023||Legal representation in the child protection system||Ram Hinsdale||Democrat||Judiciary|
|S.42||1/26/2023||Prohibits State retirement systems from investing in fossil fuels||Ram Hinsdale||Democrat||Government Operations|
|S.41||1/26/2023||Eliminates life without parole||Ram Hinsdale||Democrat||Judiciary|
|S.40||1/26/2023||Regulates firearm usage, storage, and purchase||Clarkson/ Hardy||Democrat||Judiciary|
|S.39||1/26/2023||Legislators’ pay and benefits||Clarkson/ Hardy||Democrat||Government Operations|
|S.38||1/26/2023||Municipal planning permits||McCormack||Democrat||Natural Resources|
|S.37||1/25/2023||Access to abortion and gender-reassignment||Lyons/ Hardy/ Clarkson/ Ram Hinsdale||Democrat||Health & Welfare|
|S.36||1/25/2023||Permits arrest without a warrant||Sears/ Lyons||Democrat||Judiciary|
|S.35||1/25/2023||Hartford’s infrastructure financing||White||Democrat||Finance|
|S.34||1/25/2023||Kindergarten enrollment age||Chittenden||Democrat||Education|
|S.33||1/25/2023||Miscellaneous judiciary procedures||Sears||Democrat||Judiciary|
|S.32||1/25/2023||Ranked-choice voting for presidential primary elections||Ram Hinsdale/ Hardy||Democrat||Government Operations|
|S.31||1/24/2023||Open carry and self-defense with firearms||Ram Hinsdale||Democrat||Judiciary|
|S.30||1/24/2023||Sister State Program||Hardy||Democrat||Economic Development|
|S.29||1/24/2023||Military protection orders||Ram Hinsdale||Democrat||Judiciary|
|S.28||1/24/2023||Restrict litigation against abuse survivors||White||Democrat||Judiciary|
|S.27||1/24/2023||Reducing usage of cash bails||Ram Hinsdale||Democrat||Judiciary|
|S.26||1/20/2023||Removing residency requirement from assisted suicide||Lyons||Democrat||Health & Welfare|
|S.25||1/20/2023||Banning certain harmful chemicals from cosmetic, health products||Lyons||Democrat||Health & Welfare|
|S.24||1/19/2023||Implementing the Clean Fuels Program||White||Democrat||Natural Resources|
|S.23||1/19/2023||Prohibiting certain forms of discrimination||Hardy||Democrat||Economic Development|
|S.22||1/18/2023||Posting of land, hunting/ fishing||Perchlik||Dem./ Prog.||Natural Resources|
|S.21||1/18/2023||Safety zones||Perchlik||Dem./ Prog.||Natural Resources|
|S.20||1/18/2023||Basic Needs Budget and minimum wage calculation||Ram Hinsdale||Democrat||Economic Development|
|S.19||1/18/2023||Tobacco prohibitions||Ram Hinsdale/ Lyons||Democrat||Economic Development|
|S.18||1/18/2023||Flavored-tobacco ban||Lyons||Democrat||Economic Development|
|S.17||1/17/2023||Sheriff reforms||Sears/ Hardy||Democrat||Judicial|
|S.16||1/12/2023||Exceptions for clergy||Sears||Democrat||Judicial|
|S.14||1/12/2023||Justice expendature reporting||Sears||Democrat||Judicial|
|S.13||1/11/2023||Referral of cases to community justice centers||Hashim||Democrat||Judicial|
|S.12||1/11/2023||Union elections||Ram Hinsdale||Democrat||Economic Development|
|S.11||1/10/2023||Persons prohibited from firearms||Baruth||Democrat||Judicial|
|S.10||1/10/2023||Water filling stations in schools||Chittenden||Democrat||Education|
|S.9||1/10/2023||State Auditor examining State contractor records||Bray||Democrat||Government Operations|
|S.8||1/6/2023||Counsel for the legally insane||Hashim||Democrat||Judiciary|
|S.7||1/6/2023||Public defender expanded access||Hashim||Democrat||Judiciary|
|S.6||1/6/2023||Police interrogation of juveniles||Sears||Democrat||Judiciary|
|S.5||1/6/2023||Affordable Heat Act mandate||Bray||Democrat||Natural Resources|
|S.4||1/6/2023||Violent crime reduction for juveniles through gun control||Sears||Democrat||Judiciary|
|S.3||1/6/2023||Prohibits paramilitary training camps||Baruth||Democrat||Judiciary|
|S.2||1/6/2023||Payment, case management for developmental disability services||Lyons||Democrat||Health & Welfare|
|S.1||1/6/2023||Act 250 and aircraft hangars||Sears||Democrat||Natural Resources|
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