Law & Courts

Arizona Voucher Programs Lose in State’s High Court

By Erik W. Robelen — March 30, 2009 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Arizona Supreme Court has struck down two specialized voucher programs, ruling that they violate the state constitution’s prohibition on providing state aid to private religious and secular schools.

As a result of the March 25 decision, the estimated 450 students in the two programs—one for students with disabilities and another for those living in foster care—will lose their state-funded scholarships at the end of the current academic year.

Supporters of the two voucher plans, enacted in 2006, argued that students and their parents were the true beneficiaries of the programs. But the five-member Arizona Supreme Court in a unanimous ruling in Cain v. Horne said the programs still violated constitutional restrictions.

“These programs transfer state funds directly from the state treasury to private schools,” Justice Michael D. Ryan wrote. “That the checks or warrants first pass through the hands of parents is immaterial.”

The state court of appeals overturned a trial judge last year and ruled in May that the programs were unconstitutional. A state Supreme Court justice let the programs continue during the current school year while the decision was pending at the high court.

The legal challenge was mounted by groups including the Arizona Education Association—an affiliate of the National Education Association—the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, and the Arizona School Boards Association.

“We thought the language of the Arizona Constitution was clear, and we thought that if the court applied that language, this would be the result,” said Donald M. Peters, the lead counsel for the plaintiffs.

But Timothy D. Keller, the executive director of the Arizona chapter of the Institute for Justice, and the lead attorney for the defendants, said, “the court got this one wrong on both the law and the facts.”

He said “this is not the end of the line for school choice in Arizona,” adding that families still might be able to receive aid through one of the state’s existing tax-credit-funded scholarship programs.

Mr. Keller also said he did not view the Arizona ruling as having significant implications for voucher battles in other states.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.
A version of this article appeared in the April 01, 2009 edition of Education Week as Arizona Voucher Programs Lose in State’s High Court


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Law & Courts Families Sue Rhode Island's Governor to Overturn His School Mask Mandate
The families say mask-wearing threatens to cause serious and long-lasting damage on their children's physical and emotional well-being.
Linda Borg, The Providence Journal
2 min read
Students line up to have their temperature taken as they return for the first time as their school, The Learning Community, reopens to in-person learning after it closed for the pandemic a year ago, in Central Falls, R.I., on March 29, 2021.
Students line up to have their temperature taken as they return for the first time as their school, The Learning Community, reopens to in-person learning after it closed for the pandemic a year ago, in Central Falls, R.I., on March 29, 2021.
David Goldman/AP
Law & Courts Federal Judge Denies Parents' Suit to Block Florida's Ban on School Mask Mandates
The parents argued that their children, due to health conditions, were at particular risk if any of their peers attend school without masks.
David Goodhue, Miami Herald
3 min read
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the opening of a monoclonal antibody site in Pembroke Pines, Fla., on Aug. 18, 2021. The on-again, off-again ban imposed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to prevent mandating masks for Florida school students is back in force. The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled Friday, Sept. 10, that a Tallahassee judge should not have lifted an automatic stay two days ago that halted enforcement of the mask mandate ban.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the opening of a monoclonal antibody site in Pembroke Pines, Fla., on Aug. 18, 2021. The on-again, off-again ban imposed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to prevent mandating masks for Florida school students is back in force. The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled Friday, Sept. 10, that a Tallahassee judge should not have lifted an automatic stay two days ago that halted enforcement of the mask mandate ban.
Marta Lavandier/AP
Law & Courts Texas Attorney General Sues More School Districts That Require Masks
The Texas attorney general's office anticipates filing more lawsuits against districts flouting the governor’s order. Will Dallas be next?
Talia Richman, The Dallas Morning News
4 min read
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at the Austin Police Association in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 10, 2020.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at the Austin Police Association in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 10, 2020.
Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP
Law & Courts Can They Do That? Questions Swirl Around COVID-19 School Vaccine Mandates
With at least one large school district adopting a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, here is a look at the legal landscape for such a requirement.
5 min read
Image of a band-aid being placed on the arm.
iStock/Getty