DETROIT (AP) — Private schools and their supporters in the Legislature have won a key ruling in a dispute over using tax dollars.

The Michigan appeals court on Tuesday said the state can give money to private schools to help them comply with health and safety rules, without violating the state Constitution. The case will return to a lower court judge to determine if the reimbursements are merely incidental to teaching and don’t involve entanglement with religion.

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Separately, Judge Cynthia Stephens also must decide whether the money needed approval from two-thirds of lawmakers for a local or private purpose.

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The American Civil Liberties Union and public-school groups have challenged more than $2 million in public aid for private schools for fire drills, inspections and other state requirements. They say it violates the Michigan Constitution.

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