Spokesperson for Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston issues statement on SAFE Grants temporary restraining order

Spokesperson for Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston issues statement on SAFE Grants temporary restraining order
(Source: Ryan Sjoberg)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WIS) -A spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston has released a statement in response to a judge’s decision to temporarily block the use of SAFE Grants.

On Monday, Gov. Henry McMaster announced that the SAFE Grants program would provide grants of up to $6,500 to low and middle income South Carolina families for use at private schools across the state.

These one-time grants, totaling $32 million for the 2020-2021 school year, would be taken from the $48 million he received from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds.

A lawsuit was then filed by Dr. Thomasena Adams, an Orangeburg resident with more than a decade of experience in public education. Adams asked for the temporary restraining order which was granted by a judge.

The temporary restraining order, claims the South Carolina Constitution says public funds cannot be given to religious or other private educational institutions. It further claims GEER Funds are public.

This same order states that the distribution of these funds are disproportionate as two-thirds of the relief funds would go to about 5,000 private school students compared to the more than 800,000 students in public schools.

Maria Aselage, spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston issued the following statement in opposition to the temporary order:

This temporary injunction hurts low- and middle-income parents who want to continue sending their children to the school of their choice. Every child deserves the opportunity to learn in the educational environment that best suits his or her needs, whether it is a public, private, or religious school. Gov. McMaster recognized that by announcing the SAFE Grants program. We stand with parents and their children and their right to the quality education that best suits their needs in the midst of a pandemic. We, again, thank Gov. McMaster and will pray for appropriate resolution in this important matter.”

While the restraining order prevents funds from being dispersed through the SAFE Grants program, it does not halt the application process for interested students.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Wednesday, July 29 at 2 p.m.

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