Will Arkansas be the 25th State to Adopt School Choice?
April 2, 2015
This week the Arkansas Senate passed HB 1552, the Succeed Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities, authored by Rep. Douglas House (R), attorney and retired U.S. Army colonel. The Arkansas House of Representatives previously passed the bill with bipartisan 90-0 vote.
If Gov. Hutchinson signs this bill into law, a public school student who has attended at least one year in public schools and has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), and a student who is a dependent of an active duty member of the U.S. Armed, may be eligible for a voucher. The student's parent must notify the public school at least 60 days prior to accepting the first voucher payment.
The legislation requires participating private schools to:
- Be accredited by the Arkansas State Board of Education, the Arkansas Nonpublic School Accrediting Association, or another accrediting association recognized by the state board of education as providing services to individuals with severe disabilities,
- Be in business for at least one year, provide a CPA validated statement of fiscal solvency and insurance coverage, or provide a surety bond or letter of credit for the amount of scholarship funds for any quarter,
- Comply with health and safety laws that apply to private schools,
- Comply with federal antidiscrimination provisions,
- Comply with existing laws governing private schools,
- And adhere to the tenets of the private school's published disciplinary rules before expulsion of any student receiving a voucher.
The legislation affirms that a private school participating in the program remains autonomous and is not an agent of the state or of an Arkansas school district. Additionally, the department of education shall not regulate the educational program or curriculum of a private school under the program. Finally, the regulatory power of the state is not expanded because of this program.
Source: Leslie Hiner, "Breaking Down Arkansas's School Voucher Bill," Friedman Foundation, March 31, 2015.
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