Myrtle Grove Christian School will not accept state funding from a new General Assembly school tuition voucher program, the school's headmaster said Friday.
The statement came less than a month after Myrtle Grove Christian announced a new policy requiring students' families to promise they won't support or participate in a gay lifestyle.
Such "biblical morality policies," as they're called, aren't uncommon at religious private schools. But the state's new tuition voucher program raised questions about the policy. Stacey Miller, Myrtle Grove Christian's headmaster, said in an emailed statement Friday that the school currently doesn't receive any "government funding or enroll any students under any voucher program."
"We will not be accepting opportunity scholarships next year," he wrote. "While we are grateful that this new program will enable more parents in North Carolina to make the school choices that they believe are best for their children, Myrtle Grove will continue to make scholarship opportunities available solely through private funding sources."
The Wilmington school's new policy, which will go into effect for the 2014-15 school year, will require all families applying for admission or re-enrolling to sign an agreement saying they don't support or participate in "sexual immorality, including homosexuality and bisexuality."
Miller announced the new policy in a letter to parents on Nov. 13. Since then, the school has drawn heavy criticism for its decision to adopt the policy. Cape Fear Academy teacher Claire Bennett created the Boycott Myrtle Grove Christian School group, and members of that group and others have protested outside of Myrtle Grove Presbyterian Church, near the school on Piner Road. Parents at the school have also requested that meetings be held with more information about the policy and its potential repercussions for their children.
Students in public schools from low-income families are eligible to receive the tuition vouchers, which give students up to $4,200 to use toward private school tuition. That money will come from the state general fund, according to the law. Tuition at Myrtle Grove Christian School ranges from $2,160 for pre-kindergarten students to $6,300 for middle schoolers.
Members from both American Civil Liberties Union-North Carolina and gay rights group Equality N.C. called for the school not to receive the funding.
Myrtle Grove Christian School, which has roughly 400 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, is considered a private school by the state Division of Non-Public Education. Private schools that meet a few of the agency's requirements, such as giving standardized tests and requiring students to be immunized, can receive tuition vouchers.
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