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Attorney General warns families about private schools and possible ESA scams

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(The Center Square) – Attorney General Kris Mayes warned Arizona families about the rights they give up when they leave public schools to attend private schools. The state’s top education official was quick

When families accept Empowerment Scholarship Account funds and leave the public school system, they give up rights under the federal statute that guarantees children with disabilities a Free and Appropriate Public Education, according to a July 24 news release.

“Families should know that when they accept an ESA, they lose protections from discrimination related to a child’s learning abilities, religion and sexual orientation,” according to the news release.

Mayes warned families who are accepting ESA funds to make sure the schools and vendors are reputable.

“Families should not be denied admission or kicked out of private schools because of a child’s disabilities,” said Attorney General Mayes. “I want families to know that if vendors or private schools take advantage of this, the Attorney General’s Office will investigate to the fullest extent of our authority.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne issued a statement hours later in response to Mayes’ warning.

“The Attorney General raised several issues, one of which centers on special education students,” Horne said in the statement. “Under the ESA program, special education students receive the same funding as they would attending a public school.”

Horne also said that every ESA transaction has been conducted according to the law ever since he took office.

“I am insisting that every law is strictly followed and that every penny of these funds is used for valid educational purposes,” Horne said in the statement.

Even though many rights are given up when accepting an ESA, Arizona families are still protected by Arizona’s robust consumer protection laws and anti-discrimination laws, according to the news release.

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