Victory for Educational Freedom: Mississippi Supreme Court Rejects Special Interest Group’s Attempt to Block Private Schools’ Access to Funding

May 2, 2024

On May 2, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in favor of educational freedom, rejecting a special interest group’s attempt to prevent private schools from accessing funding. The Liberty Justice Center represented the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools (MAIS), an association of private schools which the Court ruled may now access funding.

In today’s ruling in Parents for Public Schools v. Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration, the Court ruled that Parents for Public Schools—the petitioners attempting to block MAIS’s access to federal relief funds—do not have standing to sue. In its ruling, the Court vacated a lower court order that blocked MAIS’s access to emergency COVID relief funds on behalf of its private member schools.

The decision enables MAIS’s private independent schools across the state to access $10 million in emergency relief funds, which the state legislature set aside for their infrastructure use.

“We are thrilled with the Court’s ruling in favor of Mississippi students at MAIS’s private member schools,” said Buck Dougherty, Senior Counsel at the Liberty Justice Center. “The allegations made by the petitioners against independent schools relied on an unconstitutional and unconscionable Blaine Amendment, historically used to discriminate against racial and religious minorities. The Court was right to set aside the petitioners’ claim and focus on the fact that the money should be used for what the Mississippi Legislature set it aside for: independent schools’ infrastructure.”

“Today’s ruling is a win for Mississippi students and schools, and for educational freedom across the country,” Buck Dougherty concluded.

In oral arguments before the Mississippi Supreme Court in February, the Liberty Justice Center represented MAIS, which sought to intervene in the case as a defendant and successfully urged the Court to allow the federal relief funds to reach its independent schools as the Mississippi Legislature intended.

The ruling of the Mississippi Supreme Court is available here.

The Liberty Justice Center’s case filings in Parents for Public Schools v. Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration are available here.


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