The issue over school vouchers and using taxpayer money to fund religious schools has been a controversial issue for years. Supporters say that vouchers give parents the choice to send their children to the school they wish, but opponents say that it's a violation of the separation between church and state.
In Oakland, California, the St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church has been accused of lying about their attendance in order to get taxpayer funding from the local school district. The local Christian private school claimed they had enrolled 195 students with 61 of them labeled as "low income children" in order for the school to receive larger grants. According to the North County Times, the Oakland Unified School District has directed its counsel to investigate the school to validate the claims that the school inflated its attendance numbers.
Noel Gallo, a member of the local school board, noted that if any evidence comes up that shows criminal conduct involved, the case will be sent to the district attorney.
"There was unanimous concern by the board and there was a unanimous vote to direct the legal counsel to do it."
The Sacramento Bee reports that some parents of former students of St. Andrew's are speaking out against the school and how they have handled the education of the students. Kelly Coritt took her daughter out of the school earlier this year and hasn't been shy about her criticism about St. Andrew's.
"They pimp their kids out, they beat their kids, and they do not teach their kids...I'm disgusted to see that those people are still in business and you guys give them money all the time for grants when they don't do anything for the kids."
The California Watch reports that due to the enrollment number issues by St. Andrew's, the Oakland Unified School District sent $50,000 in federal funds to the school this year and nearly $175,000 to the school over the last four years. When the California Watch observed the school one morning, 15 students were seen entering the school and only six the next morning. According to CBS Local, private schools are allowed to receive taxpayer money under provisions in the No Child Left Behind Act signed into law by former president, George W. Bush.
Using taxpayer money to help fund religious schools isn't something new. Earlier this year in Louisiana, the state Department of Education used their voucher program to help fund the New Living World School run by a local church. The school, which won't even be fully operational by the start of the school year, will receive nearly $3 million if they can reach 315 enrollments by the fall.
The separation of church and state is a hot button issue across the United States and one that doesn't seem like it will be slowly down any time soon. While Republican lawmakers continue to cut education spending in their budgets, many states are using taxpayer money to fund private religious schools that come close to violating the United States constitution.