Saturday, March 31, 2012

Suit Challenges Exclusion of Religious College From Florida Tuition Grant Program

Earlier this month, Florida Christian College and 5 of its student brought suit challenging the school's exclusion from the Florida Resident Access Grant Program that provides students at eligible private colleges $2000 per year tuition assistance. The complaint (full text) in Florida Christian College v. Shanahan, (ND FL, filed 3/8/2012) alleges that exclusion of FCC students from the program violates plaintiffs' free exercise, establishment clause, free speech and equal protection rights. The statute creating the program (FL Stat Sec. 1009.89) requires that eligible schools must have a secular purpose, and receipt of state aid by students at the institution may not have the primary effect of advancing or impeding religion or result in an excessive entanglement between the state and any religious sect. The Florida Department of Education argued that FCC does not meet the secular purpose requirement. Speak Up blog reported on the case earlier this month.