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ST. ISIDORE: Catholic Charter School delays opening, eyes appeal

St. Isidore Board.png
Posted at 3:30 PM, Jun 28, 2024

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — The opening of a new Catholic Virtual Charter School is on hold after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled its contract is unconstitutional.

In a morning meeting on June 28, board members voted to push back the opening of St. Isidore of Seville as they appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Our resolution for the day’s board meeting given the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s adverse ruling the board confirms that the school will delay opening to students,” said Deacon Harrison Garlick, Secretary of the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School Board of Directors.

After an executive session with the St. Isidore board, members voted unanimously to push back opening the school until at least the 2025-2026 school year. In their approved resolution, they also said they wouldn’t accept state funding until at least July 1, 2025.

Board members didn’t comment on the decision after the meeting pointing to a statement on their website.

St. Isidore statement.png

School leaders said more than 200 students applied to start at St. Isidore this fall.

The entire board meeting wrapped up in under 40 minutes. At the same time, the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board was meeting on the same issue.

“I’m going to go ahead and make a motion that this board follow the directive that was handed down from the State Supreme Court and that we rescind the contract with St. Isidore,” said Chairman Dr. Robert Franklin.

The vote to rescind the contract between the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board and St. Isidore failed at the meeting on June 28. With only three out of five seats filled by board members, the two yes votes weren’t enough.

“It’s our responsibility, I think, to uphold the constitutional oaths we all signed as board members and follow that directive,” said Dr. Franklin.

After a nearly hour-long executive session and about 15 minutes of open discussion, Chairman Dr. Robert Franklin said he wanted to follow the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling. Board member Brian Shellem said he wanted to see how it plays out in the legal system.

“I want to be in compliance with the order of the court, but I also want that process to happen because they give us that process,” said Brian Shellem.

This was the Virtual School Board’s last meeting before a new board starts on July 1. St. Isidore would’ve been the nation’s first taxpayer-funded religious charter school.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled its contract violated state and federal law.

“I wish they would’ve gone forward without trying to have our oversight,” said Dr. Franklin. “I feel like they probably could’ve done this a whole lot better without state regulation.”

Attorney General Gentner Drummond sued the Virtual School Board last October after they approved the contract with St. Isidore.

A second vote at the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board meeting also failed.

Shellem wanted the board’s attorney to seek clarity from the Supreme Court on the order. During the meeting, legal counsel said the instruction from the court was, “very elementary and very clear.”

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