By: David Bloomberg Re: Minnesota School Challenge From _Church + State_, February, 1995:
By: David Bloomberg
Re: Minnesota School Challenge
From _Church & State_, February, 1995:
Brethren 'Public School' Challenged in Minnesota
Americans United [for Separation of Church and State] is assisting with a
lawsuit challenging the creation of a "public school" under the control of a
religious group in southwestern Minnesota.
The controversy centers around a one-room school in the rural community of
Vesta. A religious group called the Plymouth Brethren operates the school for
23 Brethren children, although the teacher and instructional materials are
provided by the Wabasso School District.
The Minnesota Civil Liberties Union brought the case last year, asserting
that the school's curriculum has been tailored to meet the Brethren's religious
demands. Since the group opposes the use of computers and televisions, such
equipment is not used in the school. Classes dealing with sex education and
drug awareness have also been dropped.
"The Brethren will be involved in curriculum determination," said Kathleen
Milner, an MCLU attorney. "School districts don't say, 'We'll consult the
Catholic Church about curriculum because we have a significant number of
Catholics in the district.'"
A new anti-separationist legal group known as Becket Fund for Religious
Liberty has agreed to represent the school district. Founded by Kevin Hasson,
a right-wing Catholic, the Washington-based group calls the MCLU's case
Americans United Legal Director Steven K. Green is assisting the MCLU with
the case. Green said a victory in the dispute should clear up a similar
controversy involving a Brethren-run "public" school in the northwest Minnesota
town of St. Vincent. Americans United members in the area protested the
creation of the St. Vincent school last year, and AU filed a formal protest
with the state Department of Education.
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