Charter School Considers Appealing Decision on Religious Texts

A charter school in Idaho is considering an appeal against the dismissal of its lawsuit, which challenged the ban on religious texts in its curriculum.

Alliance Defense Fund, the legal representative of the charter school Nampa Classical Academy, said it is "considering all available options for appeal" of the ruling made by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge's on Monday.

Lodge dismissed the NCA's lawsuit against the Idaho Public Charter School Commission, which decided last year that the academy could not use the Bible and other religious texts in its curriculum.

"Children deserve a complete education, which is what Nampa Classical Academy provides," said ADF senior legal counsel David Cortman, in a statement Tuesday. "Moreover, the court's opinion requiring the removal of religious books to comply with the so-called 'separation of church and state' conflicts with established U.S. Supreme Court precedent stating that 'the Bible may constitutionally be used in an appropriate study of history, civilization, ethics, comparative religion, or the like.'"

The lawsuit was filed last September. In it, ADF attorneys argued, "The Bible is arguably the most influential book that has ever been written. It was one of the first resources ever used in this country's public schools to teach students to read.

"The Academy believes that many students are receiving an inadequate education and therefore, the Academy is striving to utilize a historical, classical teaching model" – that includes utilizing primary, rather than secondary, sources.

They also noted that the commission knew of the school's intended use of primary texts, both secular and religious. Yet approximately one week before the academy was originally scheduled to open its doors, and nearly one year after approving its charter, the commission enforced a ban on religious texts in the classroom.

The charter school opened last year with more than 500 students, but could be shut down by this summer. The commission will hold a hearing in June to discuss revoking NCA's charter, which would result in the school's closure, according to the Idaho Press-Tribune.

The possible closure is influenced by the commission's skepticism that the NCA has obeyed the ban against using religious texts in its classrooms over the past year.

But ADF's Cortman defended Nampa Classical Academy, saying that it has a right to "provide the best possible education for its students and has decided to include the Bible, along with dozens of other religious and secular writings, as resources in its curriculum to enrich instruction of literature, history, and culture, among other topics."

"Schools have been doing this throughout American history," he noted.