Church’s Application to Open a Religious Private School in Massachusetts Is Approved after Pushback on School Committee’s Rejection
A Massachusetts school committee has approved a Hispanic church’s application for a religious private school known as the Real Life Learning Center.
According to CBN News, the Somerville, Massachusetts school committee members originally rejected the school’s application in 2021 because school board members were opposed to the church’s beliefs. The church, Vida Real Church, is a largely Hispanic immigrant church in the Boston area.
But attorneys with the First Liberty Institute and the Massachusetts Family Institute called on Somerville Superintendent Mary Skipper and the public school committee to open the private school.
"We are grateful that Somerville officials recognized that the government cannot ban a religious school because they disagree with its religious beliefs," said Ryan Gardner, counsel for First Liberty Institute. "Because of the school board's decision, more families will be able to provide the education they desire for their children."
Vida Real church officials claimed that the school committee tried to delay the application by telling the church it was incomplete and later sending the church some 35 questions about the application for the school, including questions about whether RLLC could “adequately teach students due to its religious beliefs.”
A committee report also questioned the school’s position on homosexuality and creationism, saying it was “difficult to see how a thorough science and health curriculum is possible.”
"The school’s approach to student services and counseling appears to devalue evidence-based psychology and its emphasis on approaches rooted in the belief that mental illness is caused by sin and demons is unscientific and harmful. … Overall, the school was entirely contrary to the values of SPS and the idea of educating the whole child as being inclusive."
In a statement to CBN News in March, Skipper and school committee chair Andre Green said if the private school was approved, the committee would not “engage in ongoing oversight or monitoring of that school.
"The Somerville Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of religion or any other protected class, and the Committee's review of the RLLC application has been and will continue to be fair, thorough, and consistent with the Committee's legal authority,” the statement said.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.