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Alaska Supreme Court Schedules Date for Homeschool Lawsuit Appeal

The court date comes as lawmakers seek statutory fixes to stabilize correspondence programs for the families that use them.

The Boney Courthouse building in Anchorage holds the Alaska Supreme Court chambers. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

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The Alaska Supreme Court proposed hearing the state’s appeal to a court case that struck down key components of its correspondence school program before the end of June.

Oral arguments would be held June 25, five days before the end of a hold on the lower court’s ruling.

Superior Court Judge Adolf Zeman ruled that two sections of state law allowed public funds, in the form of per student allotments, to be spent at private and religious organizations in violation of the state constitution. Attorneys for the state appealed the decision last week.

The court date comes as lawmakers seek statutory fixes to stabilize correspondence programs for the families that use them.

House Bill 400 and Senate Bill 266 take different tacks, however. HB 400 instructs the governor’s appointees on the state’s Board of Education and Early Development to find a constitutional solution and its language leaves the door open to a constitutional amendment. SB 266 repeals the language Zeman found unconstitutional and tightens restrictions on how families spend and districts report state education dollars. It would also make it tougher for parents to opt out of standardized academic testing for their children.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has signaled that he would not allow a legislative fix to become law before the Supreme Court’s decision. Any decision would come after the end of the regular legislative session on May 15. Dunleavy has suggested a special session of the Alaska Legislature may be necessary to respond.

Alaska Beacon is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Alaska Beacon maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Andrew Kitchenman for questions: info@alaskabeacon.com. Follow Alaska Beacon on Facebook and Twitter.

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