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Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee v. Statewide Virtual Charter School Board

Description:  The Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee has sued to overturn the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board’s approval of St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School as a statewide virtual charter school.

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Tuesday, Jun 4, 2024

WHO:  Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys

WHAT:  Available for media interviews following oral argument in Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee v. Statewide Virtual Charter School Board

WHEN:  Immediately following hearing, which begins at 9 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 5

WHERE:  District Court for Oklahoma County, 321 Park Ave., Oklahoma City. To schedule an interview, contact ADF Deputy Director of Media Relations AnnMarie Pariseau at (480) 417-3975.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys will be available for media interviews Wednesday following oral arguments at the District Court for Oklahoma County in OKPLAC, Inc. v. Statewide Virtual Charter School Board. ADF attorneys representing the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against the board in September 2023 and again in March 2024, after the plaintiffs amended their petition. The board is defending its decision to follow the First Amendment and legal precedent by allowing religious groups to seek generally available public funding for privately operated charter schools.

On June 5, 2023, the board approved a revised application to establish St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School as a statewide virtual charter school. OKPLAC, Inc. and other activists then sued to overturn the board’s approval of St. Isidore. But as ADF attorneys explain in the motion to dismiss, the case is defective on many grounds, including that plaintiffs lack standing and have no legal basis to bring private claims under the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act and the board’s rules.

“Oklahoma parents are best served when they have more choices, not fewer,” said ADF Senior Counsel Phil Sechler, who will be arguing before the court. “The board’s decisions are in line with this truth, just as the decision is informed by the First Amendment. We are urging the court to dismiss this lawsuit clearly designed to upend the board’s decision to approve St. Isidore.”

The board rejected St. Isidore’s initial application, considered numerous public comments directed at the issue of religious charters, and ultimately concluded that St. Isidore’s revised application satisfied all but one of the provisions in the Charter Schools Act and the board’s rules. The board determined that enforcing that one provision, which requires that a charter school be “nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and all other operations,” would violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment—a conclusion first reached by Oklahoma’s prior attorney general and seconded by the governor.

  • Pronunciation guide: Sechler (SECK’-lur)

The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is dedicated to protecting First Amendment and related freedoms for students and faculty so that everyone can freely participate in the marketplace of ideas without fear of government censorship.

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ABOUT Philip A. Sechler

Philip A. Sechler serves as senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, where he focuses on academic and religious freedom. Before joining ADF, Sechler had a long career in private practice, with substantial first-chair trial experience in courts around the country on a variety of complex litigation matters. He was also a Distinguished Visitor from Practice at Penn State Law School, where he spent four years teaching. He also taught at the Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University and at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he continues to teach a course on Professional Responsibility. Sechler received his bachelor’s degree with high distinction from Pennsylvania State University, and he earned his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated summa cum laude and was Editor-in-Chief of The Georgetown Law Journal. Following law school, he clerked for the Honorable Francis D. Murnaghan, Jr., of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Sechler is admitted to practice before the District of Columbia and Virginia bars, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous federal appellate and trial courts.