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Court to decide whether Catholic school can be sued

Flickr User Ian Brown

The Michigan Supreme Court says religious schools cannot claim a blanket exemption from being sued for violating discrimination laws.


A family sued a Catholic high school in Oakland County. They say the school violated an anti-discrimination law by refusing to admit their daughter because of a learning disability. Among other things, the school argued its operations are protected by religious freedom rights. 

“The Michigan Supreme Court said, no. This has to be determined on a case by case basis.”

Nick Roumel is a lawyer for the family.

“Here we have a statutory dispute over whether discrimination occurred when this girl was barred from the high school – the only girl from the middle school who was denied admission to the high school that year.”

“The decision had nothing to do with its religious teachings, and we think they simply made a decision that they didn’t want to educate this girl, that     this school simply doesn’t want to deal with learning disabled kids.”

The case now returns to the Michigan Court of Appeals to determine whether applying the law in this case violates the school’s First Amendment rights.

Rick Pluta is the Capitol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He is heard daily on WCMU's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.