Dan King
Dan King · July 1, 2024

ANCHORAGE, Alaska—On Friday, the Alaska Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling that struck down parts of the state’s popular Correspondence School Program as unconstitutional. With the lawsuit sent back to the lower court, families who benefit from the program, represented by the Institute for Justice (IJ), will continue to defend the program. 

In Friday’s ruling, the court held the use of the Correspondence School Program’s allotments for non-tuition purposes is permitted under the Alaska Constitution. Parents will be permitted to use the program for non-tuition purposes permanently, and can continue to use it to defray tuition costs for at least the upcoming school year. If the plaintiffs want to continue challenging the use of the program’s allotments for tuition purposes, the Supreme Court instructed them to bring a different claim, specifically challenging that use. 

“Friday’s ruling is a win for the rights of parents to pick the education that best fits their children’s unique needs, but the fight is likely not over yet,” said IJ Attorney Kirby Thomas West.  “The many parents who use the program for non-tuition purposes can now rest assured that their use of the program is secure, but we are going to keep fighting to ensure the same happens for parents like our clients who use the program towards tuition costs.” 

Since its creation, thousands of Alaska students have benefitted from the Correspondence School Program. In the early days of the program, local public schools would use the post office or float planes to send lessons and tests to students in the rural reaches of the state, and then pick the assignments up to grade them. In 1997, lawmakers expanded the program to allow parents to receive reimbursement for certain education supplies. And in 2014, the law was broadened even further to allow correspondence schools to reimburse parents who choose a variety of alternative education options, including sending their students to nonpublic schools.   

“I’m thrilled to know that I can continue to use the program to send my son to a school where he’s thriving for the next school year,” said Andrea Moceri, one of the parents working with IJ to defend the program against the lawsuit. “I look forward to continuing to defend the program so it is secure for years to come, not only for my family, but for all Alaska families.” 

Craig Richards serves as local counsel in this lawsuit, helping IJ and school parents defend the program.