Judge again stops $2.5M to Michigan private schools

DETROIT (AP/WOOD) — A judge has extended a freeze on $2.5 million in state aid for Michigan private schools.

Judge Cynthia Stephens signed an injunction Tuesday after reviewing the possible impact of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and public-school groups are challenging the appropriation to private schools for fire drills, inspections and other state requirements, which the state legislature approved last year. The plaintiffs believe it violates the Michigan Constitution’s ban on aid for private schools.

The Supreme Court recently said it was illegal for Missouri to deny a grant for a church preschool playground. Stephens says the Michigan case is a different matter that’s not focused on religion. She notes the state constitution prohibits public money for any private school.

>>PDFs: Complaint | Judge’s opinion

“By Aug. 15, the state would have started paying out money to private schools really for the first time in the history of our modern constitution,” Dan Korobkin, the ACLU’s lead attorney on the case, told 24 Hour News 8 Thursday afternoon. “This is the first big step toward making sure this money doesn’t go out to private schools so it can go to public schools, which is where the money is needed the most.”

The case in Michigan echoes a debate happening nationwide about funding for schools and whether taxpayer money should go towards private education.

“Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education, is from Michigan and she came to Washington with definitely a pro-voucher agenda,” Korobkin said. “This is an important fight when it comes to public education. Education in our public schools has always been the great equalizer. If you ask anyone who has come from a disadvantaged background and now they’re doing quite well, almost all can say, ‘This was because of the amazing public school education I got.’ If we abandon that system, we’re abandoning millions of children all throughout the country.”

24 Hour News 8 reached out to DeVos’ office about this ruling but did not receive a response Thursday.