Disabled children using school choice program get crucial backing from Ariz. Senate to stay in school longer
SB1457 received unanimous bipartisan support to help Empowerment Scholarship Account students with special needs
PHOENIX (March 3, 2016) – The Arizona Federation for Children congratulates Arizona families using Empowerment Scholarship Accounts for their children with special needs for a big win at the State Senate. In a unanimous vote yesterday, the State Senate supported SB1457, which moves ESA students with special needs one crucial step further toward a better education. The bill sponsored by Sen. David Bradley, D-Tucson, allows disabled children enrolled in the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program to use the accounts past the age of 18.
“This change to the ESA program is life-changing for children with special needs who often need more time in school to continue their development,” said Kim Martinez, communications associate for the Arizona Federation for Children. “We are so thankful for Sen. David Bradley, the members of the study committee and all thirty Arizona State Senators who came together to meet this need for the ESA kids.”
The bill is a result of a study committee that met twice over the past several months with the goal of making the program work better for teenagers with certain disabilities. SB1457 gives children with special needs who are using Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) the same opportunity to stay in school just as long as disabled students attending public schools. The bill allows disabled students to maintain their ESA to the age of 22 as long as an annual evaluation determines that they qualify by virtue of their continued disability.
“I am very pleased that SB1457 passed out of the State Senate unanimously today,” said Sen. Bradley. “The goal is to provide essential educational support to some of the most precious children in our state. Let’s hope that the House acts expeditiously to forward the bill onto the governor.”
“I commend the study committee’s thoughtful approach, which informed the public and solved a real problem through SB 1457,” said Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, who was a fellow member on the study committee and co-sponsored the bill.
Empowerment Scholarship Accounts are state-funded, private bank accounts parents control and use to customize their child’s education. Parents using the accounts for their children with special needs have the options of using a combination of education resources including private school, in-home tutoring, education therapies, homeschool and books.
SB1457 now goes to the Arizona House of Representatives for their consideration.