School board votes down religious charter school in Wisconsin

FFRF sent a letter to the Board of Education of the West Bend Joint School District [West Bend, Wis.] in opposition to a proposal to form the Crossroads Academy charter school. The Crossroads Academy, proposed by a pastor of a Baptist church, would be based on the “Hillsdale Academy Model,” which offers “instruction based upon traditional, nondenominational biblical beliefs.” The curriculum contained materials from A Beka Book publications, which describes itself as “unashamedly Christian and traditional.” A curriculum consultant for the school also said that “intelligent design” would be taught in the school.

“If the Board approves the charter for the Crossroads Academy, which appears to be a thinly veiled Christian school, the District will violate the most basic principles of Establishment Clause jurisprudence,” noted Patrick Elliott, FFRF staff attorney. “A public school system cannot financially or otherwise provide direct aid to schools performing religious instruction.” Elliott also said that Wisconsin law requires charter schools to be nonsectarian in all programs and operations.

The Foundation sent the letter and e-mailed an action alert to its members in the area on Nov. 19. A person with intimate knowledge of the school district told FFRF that the letter likely would make an impact on the Board’s vote. The Board of Education voted down the proposal in a 4-3 vote on Nov. 22. 

Freedom From Religion Foundation