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Alaska Supreme Court overturns lower court and allows correspondence school law to stand

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Supreme Court has overturned a lower court ruling that said two statutes violated the state constitution by sending public funds to private schools.

The case centers on provisions of a state law passed a decade ago that allowed families with kids in correspondence school programs to receive reimbursements for instruction-related costs. The unanimous ruling Friday was a win for Gov. Mike Dunleavy, who backed the program.

More than 22,000 students are enrolled in correspondence schools, a type of homeschooling supported by local school districts. It’s used by families living in remote regions of Alaska, but some urban families have opted for correspondence programs instead of neighborhood schools.

At issue were provisions that said districts with correspondence programs must provide individual learning plans for correspondent students. Parents can use the funds to buy services and materials from a public, private or religious organization.

The lower court found those provisions violated the Alaska Constitution, which prohibits the use of public funds “for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution.”

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