Diocese addresses temporary restraining order placed on SAFE Grants

Students from John Paul II participate in a diocesan-wide rosary to kick off Catholic Schools Week in this file photo from January 2020.

CHARLESTON—The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston spoke out against a judge’s decision to temporarily block the use of SAFE Grants.

In a statement issued July 22, the diocese said the injunction only hurts children in need.

The Safe Access to Flexible Education (SAFE) Grants program was announced by Gov. Henry McMaster at a press conference on July 20. It would provide grants of up to $6,500 to low- and middle-income South Carolina families for use at participating independent schools.

Following the announcement, the diocese praised the decision as a way to help ensure South Carolina students “can remain in the schools of their choice during these incredibly challenging times.”

On July 22, a South Carolina circuit court judge issued an order to temporarily block the program. The order is the result of a lawsuit filed in Orangeburg County.

“This temporary injunction hurts low- and middle-income parents who want to continue sending their children to the school of their choice,” diocesan officials stated. “Every child deserves the opportunity to learn in the educational environment that best suits his or her needs, whether it is a public, private, or religious school. Gov. McMaster recognized that by announcing the SAFE Grants program.”

The diocese noted that it stands with “parents and their children and their right to the quality education that best suits their needs in the midst of a pandemic.”