Lawsuit: Hawaiiʻs “Preschool Open Doors” Program Violates Separation of Church and State

State must ensure that public monies subsidizing preschool attendance are not used to promote religion.

Read the complaint: ACLUvMcManaman

HONOLULU, HAWAII – A lawsuit filed Monday, 3/31/14, in the First Circuit Court against the Director of Hawaii’s Department of Human Services (“DHS”) charges that, lacking safeguards to ensure that public monies are not being used to promote any religion, the Stateʻs Preschool Open Doors Program (“POD”) violates the establishment clause of both the Hawaii and U.S. Constitutions.

Vanessa Chong, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii said: “The intent of the program is a good one, and, alongside State schools, private preschools are an important resource in making preschool accessible to more of Hawaiiʻs families. The POD program, however, contains no safeguards to prevent public tax dollars from being spent on religious observances. There are very easy ways to fix this, and other states have made this work. We are hopeful that the State can add appropriate safeguards to protect the separation of church and state, so that all of Hawaii’s children, regardless of their families’ religious views, can participate equally in valuable preschool opportunities.”