Minnesota Allows Religious School To Open Charter

A publicly funded charter high school will open on the grounds of a Roman Catholic church in Minneapolis next year, despite concerns about church-state separation.

Last month, the Minnesota Education Department approved a charter application for Ascension Academy, a "public" school with a secular curriculum, to be located on the grounds of Ascension Catholic Church.

The school will be headed by Dorwatha Woods, the principal of Ascension School, a popular Catholic school nearby. Woods assured state education officials that the high school would not force religion on its students.

"We will lose that faith dimension that easy-to-express faith dimension...but just because we aren't talking about God doesn't mean God won't be there," Woods told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I have a faith life. God will find a way to see these children to where they need to be. With my prayers at home I will find the strength to help these children."

The Pioneer Press quoted several anonymous education department employees who expressed concern about Woods' ability to run a secular public high school.

"This school seems more like a private religious school than a public high school," said one of the unidentified state officials.