Jewish Parents sued the Department of Education in California following their prohibition on other schools in law for equal access to special needs education funding for their students. These include Orthodox Jewish schools, Protestant Christian schools, Catholic schools, Muslim schools, and any other religiously affiliated school.

Discrimination on the Law for Equal Access to Special Needs Education Funding

According to the details from Religion News Member, on Monday, March 13, six parents and two private Orthodox Jewish schools from Los Angeles were the ones who filed a federal complaint in the Central District of California. The complainant claimed that it is difficult for children with disabilities to attend religious schools and obtain the same financing that they would otherwise be entitled to if their parents had sent them to non-religious institutions instead.

The Catholic News Agency reported that public and secular private schools in California could receive federal and state government funds for special education programs. Yet, California's state legislation makes it illegal to distribute this money to private religious institutions like the Orthodox Jewish schools that many parents in California want their children to attend. This prohibition applies to schools linked with many religions, including Muslim schools, Catholic schools, Protestant Christian schools, and other religiously affiliated schools.

This case is brought up by three Jewish parents seeking special education for their children. According to a press statement issued by Becket, the parents want their children to obtain an education that enables them to realize their full potential and is oriented on the Jewish religious beliefs they were raised with. Shalhevet High School and Yavneh Hebrew Academy would like to offer this type of education to children with special needs. Still, institutions need more than state or federal money to provide such programs. 

Moreover, in this legal proceeding, the parents are represented by Becket, an organization that offers pro bono legal aid to safeguard religious liberty. The vice president and senior counsel at Becket, Eric Rassbach, said that Politicians in California could end this unconstitutional discrimination in either an easy or a complicated way. "Either they change the law that is hurting children with disabilities, or they can shamefully fight in court for the right to discriminate."

Also Read: Catholic Diocese of Albany Might Face Bankruptcy Due to Lawsuits Alleging Sexual Abuse

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The Becket Religious Liberty for All stated that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, also known as IDEA, is a piece of federal legislation that ensures all disabled children in the United States are entitled to a public education that is both free and suitable for their particular set of requirements. This support contributes to paying costs associated with staff training, special education programs, assistive technology, and other services. The funding is provided to the states by IDEA to assist children with disabilities in receiving a free and appropriate education. In addition, its assistance may include the placement of children with disabilities in private schools when public schools cannot satisfy the needs of these children.

In several other states, children with disabilities attend private schools that are either religious or secular, depending on which environment is the most beneficial for the particular child. However, in California, the legislature has decided that religious private schools are not eligible to participate in this benefits scheme and has restricted membership to just secular private schools. The goal of this legal action is to ensure that religious parents, the children of those parents with disabilities, and religious schools are all treated equally under the law, which is a result that almost 60 percent of residents in California would want to see.

Related Article: Arizona Christian University Files Lawsuit Against School District Over Violation of University's Constitutional rights, Arizona's Free Exercise of Religion Act