State may drop the religious requirement from Gov. Kasich's student mentoring grants

The state may stop requiring schools to partner with religious groups to receive any money from Gov. John Kasich's new $10 million fund to promote student mentoring programs.

State Superintendent Richard Ross told the state school board Tuesday that he could drop the requirement that a church or other faith-based organization partner with schools if lawyers determine it could open the state up to a strong legal challenge.

Ross said he hopes to make a decision about the requirement "soon."

Any non-religious group would have only have until Feb. 20 to apply for the grants, if Ross changes the rule. The application period, which started in December, is already half over.

The requirement - one not spelled out in the state law that creates the new "community connectors" program - has been called unconstitutional by individuals and organizations concerned that it would promote religion with state tax money and through schools.

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