ENGLEWOOD, N.J. — The Englewood Christian School filed a lawsuit against Sarasota County.
The church’s attorneys said the county’s zoning laws discriminate against faith-based schools.
Six years ago the church added a school for students with learning disabilities. Three years later the church administration learned it needed a special zoning exemption to operate a school with more than 25 students. The school’s enrollment is twice that.
The school spent two years applying for the exemption, asked the county to allow up to 90 students and paid $10,000. In November the county denied the exemption. The county is fining the church $250 a day, totaling about $40,000.
“Even though secular charter schools are allowed to locate in that zone without a special permit. What the county has done here clearly violates federal law. The government can’t treat religious schools worse than it treats secular groups that’s what Sarasota County has done in this case,” Holcomb said.
We reached out to Sarasota County, but a spokesperson said the county didn't comment on matters under litigation.
We asked Sarasota County if a church wanted to open a charter school in this area would they also need a special zoning exemption. We are still waiting for an answer.
The church pastor said they are in the process of buying an 11,000 square foot building to use as the new school but would like to keep the school at the church for younger students such as kindergartners.
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