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PR-challenged


Gazette staff April 4th, 2012

Quick: What’s a good way for a school district to get positive publicity?

If you answered “by winning a lawsuit against the parents of special needs children,” you may have a future as a public relations consultant at Jenks and Union public schools.

On March 27, a Tulsa district judge struck down a law that allowed the use of state funds for special needs children to attend private schools. The matter came before the judge after the school districts filed suit against parents of six special needs children participating in the program.

Signed into law in 2010, the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship allows state funds for students on Individualized Education Plans to instead cover that student’s tuition in a private school.

Judge Rebecca B. Nightingale said the law violates the state Constitution’s ban on sending public money to private sectarian institutions.

Eric Baxter, the parents’ attorney from the Washington, D.C.-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told reporters he will appeal the ruling and expects the case to end up before the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Union Superintendent Cathy Burden said she was “absolutely thrilled” with the ruling, according to The Oklahoman.

It is unknown whether that was followed by a cheer of “In your special-needs face!”

 
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