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Wolman v. Walter, 433 U.S. 229 (1977).

On June 24, 1977, the Supreme Court of the United States in Wolman v. Walter affirmed in part and reversed in part a lower court ruling which upheld the constitutionality of an Ohio statute providing certain services to private school students at public expense. With this decision the Court further delineated the permissible limits to which a state may go in providing support for private secondary and primary education. But in doing so the Court revealed a house divided on the method of analyzing "establishment clause" cases and a basic conflict within the Court as to the permissible limits of state aid.

Wolman represents the farthest limits that the Supreme Court has allowed a state to go in aiding nonpublic education. Beginning in 1947 with Everson v. Board of Education the Supreme Court upheld the reimbursement of parents for the cost of transportation to private, non-profit schools. In 1968 the Court, in Board of Education v. Allen, approved the loan of textbooks to all children, including those in private schools. In 1971 the Court struck down Rhode Island and Pennsylvania statutes which provided a subsidy for private school teachers in Lemon v. Kurtzman. Two 1973 New York cases, Levitt v. Committee for Public Education and Committee for Public Education v. Nyquist, declared invalid statutes providing reimbursement for testing and scoring along with maintenance and repair subsidies and tuition rebates. Finally, in 1975 the forerunner of the Wolman case, Meek v. Pittenger, struck down all but the textbook provisions of a Pennsylvania statute which provided counseling, testing, psychological, speech, hearing, and related diagnostic and therapeutic services to nonpublic school children. The Ohio legislature, aware of this chain of decisions and its own ten year conflict in finding a constitutional method of aiding private education, responded with legislation building upon these prior cases.

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