CBM Ministries v. DOT et al.
Victory – On December 18, 2023, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled in favor of Joy El Ministries / CBM Ministries, and held that the State Police must stop applying irrelevant, inapplicable laws to the vehicles of Joy El Ministries in the case of CBM Ministries v. DOT et al.
In Pennsylvania, as in many other states, there is a law allowing for “released time” for public school students to receive religious instruction outside of school during the school day.
For decades, the Pennsylvania State Police and PennDOT recognized that groups like Joy El Ministries may provide bus transportation for students to attend “released time” programs — only so long as they didn’t call their buses “school buses” or include equipment like flashing lights. However, an issue arose when a state policeman reversed course, grounding many of Joy El’s buses and drivers for not complying with inapplicable standards only necessary for picking up and dropping off children along roadways — something Joy El never does.
The effort to stop Joy El from transporting children was carried out despite the fact that the drivers held all the proper licenses for driving the vehicles, and despite the fact that the vehicles met all the required state safety inspections.
Thankfully, after over five years of litigation, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court held that the State Police must stop using these inapplicable regulations to interfere with the ability for Joy El to transport children for religious instruction, and that Joy El’s released time program is not a “school”.
Our Role in the Case
The Independence Law Center represented Joy El Ministries / CBM Ministries along with co-counsel from Cornerstone Law Firm and the firm of Smith Bukowski.