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Religious schools haven't yet sought public funding in Maine after Supreme Court decision

The Maine Department of Education says that in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision on a case out of Maine, no religious schools in the state have yet applied to receive public funds.

The case revolved around a state program that allows families in towns without their own public high school to use state tuition funds to send their children to approved public or private schools of their choice — with the exception of religious schools. The court's conservative majority ruled in June that the religious school exclusion was unconstitutional.

The ruling opened the door for funding from the state program, which serves about 5,000 students, to flow to religious schools.

But a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Education said earlier this month that no religious schools have applied to receive public funds since the ruling was issued.

In guidance released online, the department says that private schools must abide by certain statutory requirements to receive public funding. That includes participating in state assessments, meeting health and safety requirements, and having a curriculum aligned with the state's Learning Results.

Private schools receiving public funds must also abide by the Maine Human Rights Act's anti-discrimination provisions.

Attorney General Aaron Frey has noted that would require some religious schools to "eliminate their current discriminatory practices."

In court, the state said that included not admitting students who identified as a gender other than what's on their original birth certificate, or who come from families with same-sex parents.