Coalition including FFRF seek injunction to block Okla. religious public charter school

A coalition of plaintiffs (including the Freedom From Religion Foundation) that has filed a lawsuit to stop the nation’s first religious public charter school asked the District Court of Oklahoma County today to issue a temporary injunction.

The plaintiffs explained to the court in their move to prevent St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School from opening and receiving state funds as a public charter school the importance of ensuring that no taxpayer money funds St. Isidore and that the school does not open as a public charter school during the 2024-25 school year while litigation is ongoing in their case, OKPLAC Inc. v. Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, as well as in a similar lawsuit filed in the Oklahoma Supreme Court by Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond. St. Isidore is, and has always been, free to open as a private religious school that taxpayers would not be forced to support.

The OKPLAC plaintiffs are represented by FFRF, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberties Union and Education Law Center, as well as by Oklahoma-based counsel Odom & Sparks PLLC and J. Douglas Mann. The organizations issued the following statement:

“Oklahoma’s public schools must remain free from discrimination and religious indoctrination. And Oklahoma taxpayers, including our plaintiffs, should not be forced to financially support a religion that many of them do not share. The law is clear, and we’re hopeful the courts will soon agree: Charter schools are public schools that must be secular and serve all students.

“Nothing prevents St. Isidore from operating as a private religious school. But because St. Isidore plans to discriminate against students, families, and staff and indoctrinate students into one religion, it cannot operate as a public charter school. To protect public education, the separation of church and state, and all Oklahomans’ religious freedom, it’s crucial that the court prevent the state from funding St. Isidore and recognizing it as a public charter school until decisions have been reached in the cases brought by our plaintiffs and the attorney general.”

FFRF and the other groups, supported by Oklahoma-based counsel Odom & Sparks PLLC and J. Douglas Mann, represent nine Oklahomans and OKPLAC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting public education, in the lawsuit OKPLAC, Inc. v. Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, filed on July 31 last year in the District Court of Oklahoma County. The plaintiffs object to their tax dollars funding a public charter school that will discriminate against students and families based on their religion and LGBTQ+ status, won’t commit to adequately serving students with disabilities, and will indoctrinate students into one religion.

The plaintiffs include OKPLAC (Oklahoma Parent Legislative Advocacy Coalition), Melissa Abdo, Krystal Bonsall, Leslie Briggs, Brenda Lené, Michele Medley, Dr. Bruce Prescott, the Rev. Dr. Mitch Randall, the Rev. Dr. Lori Walke, and Erika Wright.

The team of attorneys that represents the plaintiffs is led by Alex J. Luchenitser of Americans United and includes Patrick Elliott of FFRF; Sarah Taitz and Jenny Samuels of Americans United; Daniel Mach and Heather L. Weaver of the ACLU; Robert Kim, Jessica Levin and Wendy Lecker of Education Law Center; Benjamin H. Odom, John H. Sparks, Michael W. Ridgeway and Lisa M. Millington of Odom & Sparks; and J. Douglas Mann.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with over 40,000 members across the country. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Americans United is a religious freedom advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, AU educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom. Learn more at

For more than 100 years, the ACLU has worked in courts, legislatures, and communities to protect the constitutional rights of all people. With a nationwide network of offices and millions of members and supporters, the ACLU takes on the toughest civil liberties fights in pursuit of liberty and justice for all. For more information on the ACLU, visit

Education Law Center pursues justice and equity for public school students by enforcing their right to a high-quality education in safe, equitable, non-discriminatory, integrated, and well-funded learning environments. It seeks to support and improve public schools as the center of communities and the foundation of a multicultural and multiracial democratic society. For more information about ELC, visit

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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