Federal judge rules Vermont’s school choice funds can be used for religious schools

By Katelynn Richardson

Vermont must reimburse parents denied state tuition benefits based on their decision to send their children to a religious school, per a settlement approved by a federal judge Thursday.

Under the settlement, the state is prohibited from continuing to deny parents access to tuition based on a school’s “religious status, affiliation, beliefs, exercise, or activities,” and residents of districts that previously denied funds on this basis must be reimbursed. District Judge Christina Reiss cited the Supreme Court’s ruling last summer in Carson v. Makin, a case that similarly found Maine could not exclude religious schools from its tuition program without violating First Amendment religious liberty protections.

Vermont’s town tuitioning program, like Maine’s, exists to help educate children in rural areas where public schools may not exist or cover all grade levels. Where the district has no available option in a town, it pays to send students to a private or public school of the parent’s choice.

Three families initially brought the suit in September 2020.

“Carson v. Makin made clear that the government cannot deny or restrict benefits to people based on religion,” Institute for Justice Attorney David Hodges told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Now that the question of Vermont’s tuitioning program has been settled, I am unaware of any state that is unconstitutionally restricting educational benefits in the same manner as Vermont.”

On Sept. 13, 2022, the Vermont Secretary of Education sent a letter to district superintendents instructing them that they can no longer deny tuition to religious schools “that meet educational quality standards” in light of the Carson v. Makin decision.

A similar case involving the families of two Vermont Catholic high school students was settled in December, when the judge similarly ruled the families must be reimbursed by the district for what they paid out-of-pocket.

“This settlement guarantees that any Vermont family eligible for tuition benefits can use those benefits to find the best education that meets their kids’ needs,” said Hodges in a statement. “Vermonters will no longer have their civil rights violated when they send their children to schools that happen to be religious.”

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6 thoughts on “Federal judge rules Vermont’s school choice funds can be used for religious schools

  1. So here is a video, it really starts at 1:05 where the father is giving testimony in public about what is being “indoctrinated” in our schools.

    This is a classic example of, we only need to show the public what is truly going on, framed in proper way. As he said, this is considered a class C felony. This is a wonderful video, showing how to calmly, respectfully bring up your point.

    There are many foot soldiers in the ranks that would gladly do this work. They might not “run for office” but they can be setting the ground work of change, politely and respectfully. Smoothing out the ruts in Vermont’s mud season of marxism.


    This is how you build a team. Putting people where they can be of benefit and do what they can.

    You can’t get Tom Brady on your football team as quarterback, if you don’t have a defensive team, an offensive team, a place to practice, a game plan, and all your team has never played football.

    This is how the VTGOP is trying to win a majority in the Vermont State Government. It won’t work, it never will work and it hasn’t worked for 20 years.

    And p.s. We need a new quarterback, this one isn’t a team player.

    • But Neil: isn’t it more practical to eliminate the ‘team’ aspect? It’s the ‘team’ concept that corrupts the process. We are individuals. Some of us prefer to play sports as individuals, only playing as a ‘team’ whenever it suits a specific purpose. In other words – Free Enterprise. School Choice!

      The Catch 22 is, of course, that when we find ourselves deep in the collective swamp, figuring out how to extract ourselves is a real dilemma. I’m not convinced that two-party politics is the best way. Watch your referenced video. One Alaska school board member makes a great point when he motions to have a sentence of the Declaration of Independence announced aloud in his school.

      “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, ……”

      The emphasis being on the final clauses: “…that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

      To alter? Or to abolish? That is the question.

      • I should also point out that the school board member making the motion was but a single lamb, being over-ruled by the wolves.

  2. Yes Neil the whole of VT gov is at war with children. Killing them in the womb before they have a chance to be born to mutilating them in the name of moloc gender affirmation or abuse until they commit suicide. It’s not a safe state unless you have a traditional family to protect you, and traditional family is also in their sights.

  3. It’s widely known that if you have money and a good attorney, and enough patience to get your court battle out of this state you can get justice. It’s sad how difficult it is within the state.

    A classic example is the court case about wood side currently in VT Digger. When I read one of the defendants situation, perhaps the worst I was shocked. They portray it a a great thing of Justice, while saying at the same time if parents did this they would be charged and put in jail.

    But VERMONT is better at kick backs and sweeping a stuff under the rug. Throw a little money at it and every bodies happy.

    If someone found their daughter and the baby sitter had done the following…

    a young person for a possible concussion called DCF’s child abuse hotline and reported that the girl was naked, covered in feces, urine and menstrual blood, and was nearing hypothermia

    What would you do? This was the state of VERMONT, doing this to another human being! And they had to go to federal court, and nobody gets jail time?

    Children are not currently safe in this state, we need some massive change immediately, what they are talking about in Montpelier is just evil, like this.

    If you did this to an animal you’d get jail time and half the state protesting, but this…..

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