School Choice & Charters

Arizona Supreme Court Rejects Special Education Vouchers

By Christina A. Samuels — March 25, 2009 1 min read

Arizona’s voucher program for students with disabilities and students in foster care was invalidated today by the state’s high court.

The unanimous decision stated that the $5 million program, which I wrote about last June, violates a state law that prohibits state funds from going to private schools.

From today’s story from the Associated Press:

Though supporters argued that students and their parents were the true beneficiaries of the programs, the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling said the programs still tripped up against the Constitution's prohibition against appropriating money for private education. "These programs transfer state funds directly from the state treasury to private schools. That the checks or warrants first pass through the hands of parents is immaterial," Justice Michael D. Ryan wrote.

The full decision can be found here. (pdf)

Early fallout is as expected; the supporters of the program say the decision takes away needed options from families. Opponents, like the Arizona School Boards Association, say that the program was siphoning away state dollars from public schools.

The 350-or-so students who are in the program now do not have to leave their schools immediately; the voucher program will continue to be funded through the rest of this school year.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.