Spencer Fane Obtains Victory for State Program Benefitting Disabled Children
Spencer Fane is pleased to announce that the Oklahoma Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of the firm’s clients in a high-profile dispute regarding a scholarship program for disabled children. The state-funded scholarship had been under scrutiny for including aid to children who attend sectarian schools and called into question whether that inclusion offended the “no aid” clause of the Oklahoma Constitution, which prohibits the use of state money or property to aid religion.
The unanimous decision, which concluded a five-year dispute over the matter in Oliver v. Hofmeister, found that because parents personally decide how and where the money is spent, there is no violation to the Oklahoma Constitution with regard to the prohibition against the use of state money or property in aiding religion. The Supreme Court opinion concluded that “because the parent receives and directs the funds to the private school, sectarian or non-sectarian, we are satisfied that the state is not actively involved in the adoption of sectarian principles or directing monetary support to a sectarian institution through this scholarship.”
“We’re extremely pleased with the court’s outcome and consider the ruling to be a tremendous victory for families throughout the state of Oklahoma,” said Andy Lester, Spencer Fane attorney and lead counsel on the case. “The children who are attending private schools with the assistance of the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program are enrolled on the merits of the programs offered, including specialized care for their specific disability-related needs – programs which often are not provided at the public level.”
Andy Lester was joined by fellow Spencer Fane attorneys Carrie Vaughn and Hossein Farzaneh in his representation of the defendants.