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ACLU Questions State's New Education Mentoring Program

Organizations are grumbling about a requirement from the Ohio Department of Education to include a faith-based group for a mentorship program.

The state’s leading civil rights organization is planning a public records request to find out more about a state-supported mentoring program for schools. 

Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard Ross, who is an appointee of Gov. John Kasich, says schools that want to join the Community Connections program can partner with a business or a non-profit. But must also have a faith-based organization on board.

Chris Link of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio says the governor’s apparent preference is a problem.

“If he had come out with an edict that said only secular organizations, we would be there to defend the right of faith-based groups to be included. He’s practicing a kind of politics of exclusion – keeping certain groups out,” Link said.

A spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Education says the governor and the superintendent feel that requiring faith-based organizations makes the mentoring partnership “more robust,” and can allow students to connect with successful people with “high moral values.”