Issued to: North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board
Request: Does Article VIII, Section 5 of the North Dakota Constitution prohibit ND ESPB from providing grants from the Teacher Support System to teachers at sectarian schools?
Conclusion: teachers at private schools may participate in the Teach Support System as mentors and receive grants for their participation because participation in the mentor program is a requirement for renewed licensure and the lack of contrary language in statute. Article VIII, Section 5 bars appropriated funds and public money from being used to support any sectarian school, however, the United States Supreme Court has held that laws cannot be enforced in any situation where doing so would disadvantage a sectarian school as compared to a non-religious private school simply because of the school’s sectarian nature. Based on binding United States Supreme Court caselaw, it is my opinion the Blaine Amendment unconstitutionally disadvantages sectarian schools. As a result, it is my opinion that teachers at all schools, including both non-religious and sectarian private schools, may participate in the Teacher Support Program as mentors, and may receive grants to support their participation.