Fla. Religious School’s Charter Status Sparks Concern

A Florida Christian school must be careful not to promote religion once it converts into a public charter school, Americans United has advised a local school district.

Palmetto Christian School will be open next year as Palmetto Charter School, receiving $1.7 million in state dollars while continuing to operate in the same building with the same leadership, staff and students.

Religious school administrators say they are aware that they must remove religious symbols from the property. AU attorneys have also advised the local school district that further action must be taken to ensure that constitutional standards are met.

In a letter to the Manatee County School Board, AU said prayer cannot be incorporated into school instruction or activities, the curricula must not be tailored to the principles of Christianity, religious groups may not be given preferential access and the school cannot continue to use Church on the Rock’s sanctuary to host school events and plays.

Palmetto Christian School will be joining at least eight other Florida religious schools that have recently changed into public institutions. Similar transitions have taken place with Catholic schools in the District of Columbia, New York and Texas.