Constitutional Provisions

Compelled Support Clause

“[N]or shall any person be compelled to attend or support any form of worship ….” Kansas Const. Bill of Rights § 7.

Blaine Amendment

“No religious sect or sects shall control any part of the public educational funds.” Kansas Const. Art. 6, § 6(c).

Education Article

“Local public schools under the general supervision of the state board of education shall be maintained, developed and operated by locally elected boards. When authorized by law, such boards may make and carry out agreements for cooperative operation and administration of educational programs under the general supervision of the state board of education, but such agreements shall be subject to limitation, change or termination by the legislature.” Kansas Const. Art. 6, § 5.

Vouchers: Yes

Tax Credits: Yes

Existing Private School Choice Programs

Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program

Kansas Statutes Annotated Sections 72-99a01 to -99a07 (Supp), 79-32, 138 (Supp)

Relevant Case Law

2004 Kansas Att’y Gen. Op. 2004-5 (Mar. 19, 2004)

The Kansas Constitution does not prohibit government aid to students attending sectarian schools where the aid benefits the student in a religiously neutral program.

Americans United for Separation of Church & State v. Bubb, 379 F. Supp. 872 (D. Kan. 1974)

A federal district court held that a state statute providing tuition to students attending qualified private universities, where all the qualified schools in the state were church-related, had the valid secular purpose of promoting higher education, did not primarily advance religion because the colleges were not overtly sectarian, and did not overly entangle the state with religion.

Atchison, T. & S. F. R. Co. v. Atchison, 28 P. 1000 (Kan. 1892)

The Kansas Supreme Court held that the city of Atchison had no power to impose a property tax on its citizens to aid private, sectarian schools or to promote private interests and enterprises.

Analysis and Recommendations

Both tax credit and voucher programs are school choice options for Kansas. The Kansas Constitution contains a Compelled Support Clause and a Blaine Amendment but neither has received much judicial attention. Relative to other states’ variations, the scope of the Kansas Blaine Amendment is very limited; it only prevents religious sects from controlling public educational funds. As vouchers can be funded from any number of revenue sources and neither vouchers nor tax benefit programs give public money directly to religious schools, there is no possibility for religious control of the public education fund as a result of school choice programs. Additionally, Kansas’ case law demonstrates a strong tendency for adhering to federal precedent on Establishment Clause issues. In Zelman, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld school choice programs under the federal Constitution.

Model Legislation: Education Savings Account, Parental Choice Scholarship Program (Universal Eligibility), Parental Choice Scholarship Program (Means-Tested Eligibility), Special Needs Scholarship Program, Foster Child Scholarship Program, Autism Scholarship, Great Schools Tax Credit Program, Family Education Tax Credit Program

Sign up to receive IJ's biweekly digital magazine, Liberty & Law along with breaking updates about our fight to protect the rights of all Americans.