Education A State Capitals Roundup

Arizona Lawsuit Targets Special-Needs Vouchers

By Michele McNeil — November 28, 2006 1 min read

Three Arizona parents, backed by civil liberties groups, are suing to block two new state voucher programs aimed at children with disabilities and those in foster care.

The lawsuit—filed Nov. 14 in the Arizona Supreme Court on behalf of the parents by People for the American Way, a Washington-based advocacy group, and other groups—marks the first time a voucher program for special-needs students has been challenged in court, according to the Institute for Justice, an Arlington, Va.-based legal-advocacy group that will defend Arizona’s voucher programs in court.

The two Arizona programs, signed into law this year by Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, provide a limited number of publicly funded tuition vouchers so that some children in foster care or with disabilities can attend another school, including a religious or secular private school. The suit argues that the programs violate the Arizona Constitution’s requirement that the state provide a “uniform system” of public schools, and that the programs overstep the line between church and state.

A version of this article appeared in the November 29, 2006 edition of Education Week