Burlington, Vt., Feb 3, 2019 / 16:25 pm
The Diocese of Burlington is joining two students and their parents in filing a federal lawsuit challenging a Vermont policy that excludes students at private religious schools from taking part in a college credit program.
The Dual Enrollment Program in Vermont allows high school students to take college courses funded by the state. Students from public schools are eligible, as are students from secular private schools, and homeschooled students. However, attendees of private religious high schools are excluded from the program.
Eligibility for the program mirrors the criteria for a separate Town Tuitioning Program, which does not include private religious schools due to a 1999 Vermont Supreme Court decision which held that the use of public funds to pay tuition at private religious schools was a violation of the state constitution.
But plaintiffs in the lawsuit say the dual enrollment situation is different, since the state is paying for college courses, not the tuition for a religious high school.