By: David Bloomberg Re: Minnesota School Challenge From _Church + State_, February, 1995:

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By: David Bloomberg Re: Minnesota School Challenge From _Church & State_, February, 1995: Brethren 'Public School' Challenged in Minnesota Americans United [for Separation of Church and State] is assisting with a lawsuit challenging the creation of a "public school" under the control of a religious group in southwestern Minnesota. The controversy centers around a one-room school in the rural community of Vesta. A religious group called the Plymouth Brethren operates the school for 23 Brethren children, although the teacher and instructional materials are provided by the Wabasso School District. The Minnesota Civil Liberties Union brought the case last year, asserting that the school's curriculum has been tailored to meet the Brethren's religious demands. Since the group opposes the use of computers and televisions, such equipment is not used in the school. Classes dealing with sex education and drug awareness have also been dropped. "The Brethren will be involved in curriculum determination," said Kathleen Milner, an MCLU attorney. "School districts don't say, 'We'll consult the Catholic Church about curriculum because we have a significant number of Catholics in the district.'" A new anti-separationist legal group known as Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has agreed to represent the school district. Founded by Kevin Hasson, a right-wing Catholic, the Washington-based group calls the MCLU's case "frivolous." Americans United Legal Director Steven K. Green is assisting the MCLU with the case. Green said a victory in the dispute should clear up a similar controversy involving a Brethren-run "public" school in the northwest Minnesota town of St. Vincent. Americans United members in the area protested the creation of the St. Vincent school last year, and AU filed a formal protest with the state Department of Education.


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