AZ Spec Needs & Foster Care - Release 8-21-08

Institute for Justice Applauds Funding Of Scholarships for Special Needs and Foster Children

WEB RELEASE: August 21, 2008
Lisa Knepper: (703) 682-9320
Tim Keller: (480) 557-8300

[School Choice]

Phoenix—The Institute for Justice today applauded a fix to the educational crisis that hit hundreds of Arizona schoolchildren when the state Legislature failed to fund scholarship programs for special needs and foster children in this year’s budget.  State Superintendent Tom Horne and House Speaker Jim Weiers today announced that the Department of Education will use $5 million in its existing budget to fund the scholarship programs.

“This is a huge relief to the hundreds of families counting on these scholarships for a quality education for their children,” said Tim Keller, executive director of the Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter.  IJ represents families defending the program from a constitutional challenge.

Keller added that the next step to ensure the long-term viability of the programs is to secure a ruling from the Arizona Supreme Court upholding them under the state Constitution.  In June, IJ asked the Arizona Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling striking down the programs.  The court is expected to decide whether to take the case this fall.

“Arizona’s Constitution and policy history both back the right of parents to choose the school that best suits their child’s needs,” said Keller.  “The appellate court disregarded decades of Arizona precedent and policy, and today’s action means kids won’t be torn from their schools while the state’s highest court has a chance to set the record straight.”

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