Busing Parochial Students Isn’t Required, Court Says

     ST. LOUIS (CN) – A South Dakota school district did not violate a family’s constitutional rights by refusing to bus students from a private religious school, the 8th circuit ruled.

     The Pucket family claimed the decision of the Hot Springs School District to stop busing Bethesda Lutheran School students violated their First and 14th Amendment rights.
     Judge Gruender determined that the district lacked the authority to bus those students before March 3, 2003, so it did not discriminate against the Puckets.
     After that date, new legislation gave the district the authority – but not the requirement – to bus parochial students. Gruender ruled that the Puckets failed to ask the district to bus their students under the new law.
     The school district had stopped busing the Bethesda Lutheran School students in May 2003, after the Puckets filed suit, but resumed busing to avoid exposure to insurance liability.

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