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United States District Court for the District of Maine
June 26, 2019, Decided; June 26, 2019, Filed
CIVIL NO. 1:18-CV-327-DBH
[*208] DECISION AND ORDER ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR JUDGMENT ON A STIPULATED RECORD
This case concerns the application of the First Amendment religion clauses to Maine's funding [**2] of secondary education—namely its exclusion of sectarian schools from its program of paying tuition to parent-chosen private schools when local government does not provide a public school. A number of amici curiae have demonstrated their interest in the issue by filing legal memoranda on both sides, and the United States has filed a statement of interest supporting the plaintiffs. The parties initially filed cross-motions for summary judgment but at oral argument on June 24, 2019, agreed to submit the case as cross-motions for judgment on a stipulated record.1
The parties have stipulated that Maine school administrative units must "either operate programs in kindergarten and grades one to 12 or otherwise provide for students to participate in those grades as authorized elsewhere in this Title."2 Of the 260 school administrative units in Maine, 143 do not operate a secondary school, including those that serve the plaintiffs' towns of residence—Glenburn, Orrington, and Palermo.3 Any school administrative unit like these "that neither maintains a secondary school nor contracts for secondary school privileges pursuant to chapter 115 shall pay the tuition, in accordance with [**3] chapter 219, at the public school or the approved private school of the parent's choice at which the student is accepted."4 The school administrative units that serve the plaintiffs' towns "do not contract for secondary school privileges with any particular public or private secondary school for the education of their resident secondary students."5 Those school administrative units therefore "are obligated to pay up to the legal tuition rate . . . to the public or private school approved for tuition purposes selected by the resident secondary student's parents."6 But a "private school may be approved for the receipt of funds for tuition purposes only if it . . . [i]s a nonsectarian school in accordance with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution."7
It is this last requirement—that the parent-selected private school be nonsectarian—that provokes this lawsuit.8
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
401 F. Supp. 3d 207 *; 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106656 **; 2019 WL 2619521
DAVID AND AMY CARSON, on their own behalf and as next friends of their child, O.C.; ALAN AND JUDITH GILLIS, on their own behalf and as next friends of their child, I.G.; AND TROY AND ANGELA NELSON, on their own behalf and as next friends of their children, A.N. and R.N., PLAINTIFFS V. A. PENDER MAKIN, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education, DEFENDANT
Subsequent History: Affirmed by Carson v. Makin, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 34196 (1st Cir. Me., Oct. 29, 2020)
Prior History: Carson v. Hasson, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 205925, 2018 WL 6382055 (D. Me., Dec. 6, 2018)
funding, religious, schools, tuition, secondary school, private school, secondary, sectarian, parties