After months of delay, the State Board of Education has quietly approved Christian Heritage Academy’s application to serve children who are beneficiaries of a state scholarship program.
The approval was part of a consent docket voted on by board members at the group’s regular December meeting and came after an opinion by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter warned that regulations cited to bar Christian Heritage Academy’s participation were illegally enacted.
The Lindsey Nicole Henry (LNH) Scholarships for Students with Disabilities program provides scholarships to students with special needs and foster children, allowing them to attend private schools in Oklahoma. Under state law, participating private schools must comply with the antidiscrimination provisions of a section of federal law that bars discrimination “on the ground of race, color, or national origin.”
However, under the leadership of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, the OSDE drafted new regulations in 2019 that expanded that list to cover nine categories, including “religion” and “sexual orientation.” Those changes effectively barred schools that adhere to historic Christian teachings from participating in the program and were previously cited as justification to deny Christian Heritage Academy’s application.