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Religious Families Denied Equal Access in California’s Special-Ed Policy

California is a “sanctuary state,” offering out-of-state pregnant women abortion services and medical interventions for “transgender” youth. It tightens its purse strings, however, when it comes to special-education services by denying reimbursement for private schooling if parents choose a school that is “sectarian” regardless of the school meeting all education and special-needs criteria. One word perfectly describes such a discriminatory policy: unconstitutional.

Any parent of a child with disabilities navigates a complex system of services and resources in order to meet their child’s educational needs. Responding to this, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The IDEA helps parents and their children with disabilities obtain educational opportunities equal to nondisabled students with federal funding for special-education programs in schools across the country. The goal is that children, regardless of their disabilities, can receive free and appropriate education, including at private schools when public schools cannot meet their needs. Thanks to IDEA grants, children with particular needs have access to essential resources such as assistive technology and special-education programs.

In California, however, even the care of young people with disabilities takes second place to secularist dogma.

California’s Education Code directs reimbursement for services to “nonpublic, nonsectarian schools” to support students with disabilities when “no appropriate public education program is available.” “Nonsectarian” is defined as “a private, nonpublic school … that is not owned, operated, controlled by or formally affiliated with a religious group or sect, whatever might be the actual character of the education program or the primary purpose of the facility and whose articles of incorporation and/or by-laws stipulate that the assets of such agency or corporation will not inure to the benefit of a religious group.”

Three Orthodox Jewish families who have concluded that the best educational fit for their children with special needs is a religious school are challenging this exclusionary rule.

Chaya and Yoni Loffman, Fedora Nick and Morris Taxon, and Sarah and Ariel Perets are Orthodox Jewish parents whose religious beliefs require them to send their children with disabilities to schools that will both equip them with an education that allows them to reach their full academic potential and one centered around the Jewish tradition.

Read more at National Catholic Register 

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