Courts Can Look At Lawsuits Against Church-Based Schools

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The Michigan Supreme Court says the First Amendment doesn’t automatically give a legal shield to church-based schools in lawsuits over their decisions.

In a unanimous opinion, the state’s top court says lower courts can have jurisdiction and hear disputes.

The court ruled Tuesday in the case of a dyslexic student who was rejected by Notre Dame Preparatory School in Pontiac. The parents of the girl who was rejected by prep school allege she was illegally turned down in 2014 because of a learning disability.

The Michigan appeals court said an Oakland County judge had no authority to even consider the allegations. The Supreme Court overturned that decision, although it also said the school still might have religious liberty defenses.

The case now is going back to the appeals court for a look at whether a disability civil rights law applies to Notre Dame Prep.

The Roman Catholic school has denied any discrimination and insists the girl was rejected for 9th grade because of low grades at Notre Dame’s Marist Academy. The school said the decision was made long before she was diagnosed with dyslexia and attention-deficit disorder.

 

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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