State board of education on shaky legal ground

One of the bright spots in Oklahoma’s education system is the Lindsey Nicole Henry (LNH) Scholarship program, which provides private-school vouchers to children with disabilities, children in the foster care system, and children adopted out of state custody. Named after former-Governor Brad Henry’s daughter, the program has more than 1,000 students and 62 schools participating.

In September of this year, the Oklahoma State Board of Education denied the applications of two Christian schools upon objection by member Kurt Bollenbach. Bollenbach’s objection was based on the schools’ policy of hiring teachers that adhere to traditional Christian teachings on issues of sexuality.

Bollenbach said schools “have every right” to set their hiring policies “until they ask for state dollars or federal dollars.” Bollenbach, a licensed attorney in Oklahoma, is on shaky legal ground with that statement if one considers decisions of the Oklahoma and United States Supreme Courts.

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