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Maine has approved the first religious school to receive public funding since court decision

Supreme Court Religious Schools
J. Scott Applewhite
/
AP
Light from the morning sun illuminates the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021.

Maine has approved the first religious school application to receive public tuition funds, in the wake of a consequential U.S. Supreme Court case earlier this year.

Portland's Cheverus High School was approved to take part in Maine's "town tuitioning" program, according to a document posted earlier this week by the Maine Department of Education.

Under the program, families in certain towns without their own elementary or high school can send their children to the public or private school of their choosing, with the state reimbursing tuition costs.

Religious schools had been excluded until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the ban was unconstitutional.

Cheverus describes itself as a Jesuit Catholic school that teaches students to pursue "intellectual, spiritual, physical and personal excellence for the greater glory of God."

It's still unknown how many religious schools will choose to apply for the program. To qualify for public tuition funds, private schools must meet curriculum, health and safety requirements.

They must also comply with the Maine Human Rights Act, which Attorney General Aaron Frey has noted would require some religious schools to eliminate what he says are their "current discriminatory practices."

Cheverus officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.