Washington, D.C. Finding a suitable facility for educating students is one of the most pressing challenges public charter schools face. Since most public charters do not have access to school district facilities, charter school leaders are often forced to lease space from private entities with affordable space, including religious organizations. However, recent legal cases have created some uncertainty for schools renting space in religious facilities. In a new report, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools provides recommendations for charters on how to avoid the challenges raised in recent court cases.
The report, Separation of Church and School: Guidance for Public Charter Schools Using Religious Facilities, maps the legal landscape for charter schools housed in buildings owned or operated by religious institutions. A particular concern addressed in the report is whether a charter schools use of a religious facility could be interpreted to violate the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which establishes the separation of church and state.
"Despite the huge parental demand for charter schools, far too many states and communities do not provide facilities or facilities support for these public schools. Consequently, charter school leaders must find suitable space wherever they can, including in religious facilities," said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "We're hopeful that this report will help charter school leaders more easily secure appropriate space for their schools without worrying about this challenging body of law."
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