Senate Engrossed House Bill
State of Arizona
House of Representatives
Second Regular Session
HOUSE BILL 2676
amending Title 15, chapter 8, Arizona Revised Statutes, by adding article 8; making an appropriation; relating to school enrollment.
(TEXT OF BILL BEGINS ON NEXT PAGE)
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
Section 1. Title 15, chapter 8, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended by adding article 8, to read:
ARTICLE 8. ARIZONA SCHOLARSHIPS FOR
PUPILS WITH DISABILITIES
15-891. Arizona scholarships for pupils with disabilities program; definition
A. The Arizona scholarships for pupils with disabilities program is established to provide pupils with disabilities with the option of attending any public school of the pupil's choice or receiving a scholarship to any qualified school of the pupil's choice.
B. The parent of a public school pupil with a disability who is dissatisfied with the pupil's progress may request and receive from the state a scholarship for the child to enroll in and attend any qualified school in accordance with this section if both of the following apply:
1. The child has spent the prior school year in attendance at a public school in this state.
2. The parent has obtained acceptance for admission of the pupil to a qualified school that is eligible for the program under this article and has notified the school district of the request for a scholarship at least sixty days before the date of the first scholarship payment. The parental notification must be through a communication directly to the school district or through the department of education to the school district in a manner that creates a written or electronic record of the notification and the date of receipt of the notification.
C. This section does not apply to a pupil who is enrolled in the state educational system for committed youth pursuant to chapter 11.1 of this title.
D. A scholarship awarded pursuant to this article remains in force until the pupil returns to a public school or graduates from high school, except that the pupil's parent may remove the pupil from the qualified school at any time and place the pupil in another qualified school that is eligible for participation in the Arizona scholarships for pupils with disabilities program or in a public school as provided in this article.
E. Notwithstanding the enrollment policies or desegregation provisions prescribed in article 1.1 of this chapter, a school district or charter school shall enroll any child pursuant to this article.
F. For the purposes of this article:
1. "Qualified school" means a nongovernmental primary school or secondary school or a preschool for handicapped students that is located in this state and that does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, handicap, familial status or national origin.
2. "pupil with a disability" means a child with a disability as defined in section 15-761 who has been issued an individualized education program as defined in section 15-761.
15-891.01. Obligations of school districts and department of education
A. A school district shall timely notify the parent of each pupil with a disability of all options available pursuant to this article and offer that pupil's parent an opportunity to enroll the pupil in another public school within the district. The parent is not required to accept this offer instead of requesting an Arizona Scholarship to a qualified school. However, if the parent chooses the public school option, the pupil may continue attending a public school chosen by the parent until the pupil graduates from high school. The transportation provisions set forth in section 15-816.01 apply to pupils who participate in the scholarship program pursuant to this article.
B. If the parent chooses the qualified school option and the pupil is accepted by the qualified school pending the availability of space for the pupil, the parent of the pupil must notify the school district sixty days before the first scholarship payment and before enrolling the child in the qualified school to be eligible for the scholarship when space becomes available for the pupil in the qualified school.
C. The parent of a pupil may choose to enroll the pupil in and transport the pupil to a public school in an adjacent school district that has available space and that has a program that complies with the pupil's individualized education program, and that school district shall accept the pupil for admission to the public school.
D. If a parent of a pupil who resides in the school district and who participates in the Arizona scholarships for pupils with disabilities program requests that the pupil take any of the statewide tests prescribed by this title, the school district shall provide locations and times to take these statewide tests.
E. A school district shall notify the department of education within ten days after the school district receives notification of a parent's intent to apply for a scholarship for a pupil with a disability.
15-891.02. Qualified school eligibility
To be eligible to participate in the Arizona scholarships for pupils with disabilities program, a qualified school shall be located in this state and may be sectarian or nonsectarian.
15-891.03. Obligations of program participants
A. Parents who apply for Arizona scholarships pursuant to this article are exercising their parental option to place their children in a qualified school. A parent exercising this option shall select the qualified school and apply for the admission of the pupil.
B. The parent shall request the scholarship offered pursuant to this article at least sixty days before the date of the first scholarship payment.
C. Any pupil who participates in the scholarship program offered pursuant to this article shall remain in attendance throughout the school year, unless the pupil is excused by the school for illness or for other good cause, and the pupil shall fully comply with the school's written policies concerning student conduct.
D. The parent of each pupil who participates in the scholarship program shall comply fully with the qualified school's parental involvement requirements, unless the parent is excused by the school for illness or for other good cause.
E. If the parent requests that the pupil who participates in the scholarship program participate in the statewide tests prescribed by this title, the parent is responsible for transporting the pupil to an assessment site designated by the school district.
F. On receipt of a scholarship warrant, the parent to whom the warrant is issued shall restrictively endorse the warrant to the qualified school for deposit into the account of the qualified school.
G. A participant who fails to comply with this section forfeits the scholarship awarded pursuant to this article.
15-891.04. Scholarship funding and payment; fund; liability; rules
A. The maximum scholarship granted for a pupil with a disability shall be equivalent to the base support level prescribed in section 15‑943 for that particular pupil.
B. The amount of any assessment fee required by the participating qualified school may be paid from the total amount of the scholarship. The amount of the Arizona scholarship shall be the lesser of:
1. The amount prescribed in subsection A of this section.
2. The amount of the qualified school's tuition and fees or the actual per pupil costs, whichever is greater.
C. If the participating qualified school requires partial payment of tuition before the start of the academic year to reserve space for pupils admitted to the school, a partial scholarship payment may be paid by the department of education before the first quarterly payment of the year in which the Arizona scholarship is awarded, up to a maximum of one thousand dollars, and the amount of this payment shall be deducted from subsequent scholarship payments. If a pupil decides not to attend the participating qualified school, the partial reservation payment shall be returned to the Department of Education by the participating qualified school. A pupil shall not be awarded more than one reservation payment per year.
D. The school district shall report to the department of education all pupils who are attending a qualified school under the scholarship program offered pursuant to this article.
E. The Arizona scholarships for pupils with disabilities program fund is established consisting of monies appropriated for this purpose. The department of education shall administer the fund. Monies in the fund are continuously appropriated. Following notification of the number of program participants in the scholarship program, the department of education shall transfer from the fund the amount calculated under subsection A of this section in quarterly installments to the parents of pupils who participate in the scholarship program. When a pupil enters the scholarship program, the department of education shall receive all documentation required for the pupil's participation, including the qualified school's and pupil's fee schedules, at least thirty days before the first quarterly scholarship payment is made for the pupil. The department of education shall not make any retroactive payments from the fund.
F. On proper documentation reviewed and approved by the department of education, the superintendent of public instruction shall make scholarship payments in four equal quarterly installments on dates selected by the department of education. The initial payment shall be made after the Department of Education verifies that the pupil has been accepted for admission at the qualified school, and subsequent payments shall be made on verification of continued enrollment and attendance at the qualified school. Payment shall be by individual warrant payable to the pupil's parent and mailed by the department of education to the qualified school of the parent's choice, and the parent shall restrictively endorse the warrant to the qualified school for deposit into the account of the qualified school.
G. Liability shall not arise on the part of the state based on the award or use of an Arizona scholarship.
H. The state board of education may adopt rules to carry out the purposes of this article, except that the inclusion of eligible qualified schools in the scholarship program shall not be construed to expand the regulatory authority of this state or its officers or any school district to impose any additional regulation of qualified schools.
15-891.05. Limitation of regulation on qualified schools
A. In any legal proceeding challenging the application of this article to a qualified school, this state bears the burden of establishing that the law is necessary and does not impose any undue burden on qualified schools.
b. A qualified school shall not be required to alter its creed, practices or curriculum in order to redeem grants issued pursuant to this article or in order to participate as a qualified school.
15-891.06. Program termination
The program established by this article ends on July 1, 2016 pursuant to section 41-3102.
Sec. 2. Appropriation; purpose; exemption
A. The sum of $2,500,000 is appropriated from the state general fund in fiscal year 2006-2007 to the department of education for deposit in the Arizona scholarship for pupils with disabilities program fund established by section 15-891.04, Arizona Revised Statutes, as added by this act.
B. The appropriation made in subsection A of this section is exempt from the provisions of section 35-190, Arizona Revised Statutes, relating to lapsing of appropriations until June 30, 2008.
APPROVED BY THE GOVERNOR JUNE 21, 2006.
FILED IN THE OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE JUNE 21, 2006.