© 2024 KGOU
Photo of Lake Murray State Park showing Tucker Tower and the marina in the background
News and Music for Oklahoma
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Proposed Oklahoma Catholic charter school won't open this fall, will appeal challenge to SCOTUS

The St. Isidore school board met June 28, 2024 to vote in response to the State Supreme Court's ruling against the school.
Beth Wallis
StateImpact Oklahoma
The St. Isidore school board met June 28, 2024 to vote in response to the State Supreme Court's ruling against the school.

Responding to a recent state Supreme Court decision against what would be the nation’s first publicly funded religious school, the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School’s board says it will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and voted Friday not to open its doors in the fall.

But the state board that authorized St. Isidore’s contract also met Friday — and had trouble getting everyone on board with the vote to rescind St. Isidore’s contract, as ordered by the court.

St. Isidore’s vote confirmed the school will delay opening to students until at least the 2025 to 2026 school year as it seeks review by the United States Supreme Court. It also voted it would not accept state funding until at least July 2025.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled St. Isidore’s contract was unconstitutional and should be rescinded. But when the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board also met Friday, member Brian Shellem abstained from the vote to rescind the contract, saying the board should wait until the end of the 10 days St. Isidore has to petition for a rehearing.

“We want to be in compliance with the order of the court, but I also want to allow that process to happen because they give us that process,” Shellem said. “Everything just happened a couple of days ago.”

This was despite protests from Board Chair Robert Franklin.

“What I’ve read, and what I’ve understood from our legal counselors’ perspective … the writ came down from the state Supreme Court that basically said, ‘your board voted unconstitutionally to move forward with the contract with St. Isidore,’” Franklin said. “And I would say, if they’ve directed us to rescind that, we follow that writ, and we let St. Isidore or the archdiocese, whatever legal entities need, to do the work, on behalf of moving that forward — do that work.”

The abstention meant the vote failed. Because the board is dissolving, it will never take another vote.

A new Statewide Charter School Board will take its place and take over its contract, with State Superintendent Ryan Walters in one of its nine positions. Its first meeting is set for July 9.

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership of Oklahoma’s public radio stations which relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Beth reports on education topics for StateImpact Oklahoma.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
More News
Support nonprofit, public service journalism you trust. Give now.