Constitutionality of AZ voucher program upheld - WDAM.COM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Constitutionality of AZ voucher program upheld

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

The Arizona Court of Appeals has upheld the constitutionality of a state voucher program that allows Arizona students to use education money for various services.

The appeals court's decision Tuesday upholds a trial judge's 2012 ruling.

Both courts rejected opponents' arguments that the program violates state constitutional prohibitions on using public money to support religious or private schools.

The program provides grants, or empowerment scholarships, to parents of students with disabilities, foster children, students in D- and F-rated public schools and children from military families.

The courts also said it is constitutional because parents have discretion on how to spend the money for education costs.

Permitted uses can include private school tuition, tutoring, required textbooks and savings for college expenses.

Challengers included groups representing school district boards, teachers and school business officials.

State lawyers and advocacy groups supported the program, which was created under 2011 legislation.

"This program is a lifesaver for children who have special needs or who were consigned to failing schools," said Clint Bolick, the Goldwater Institute's Vice President for Litigation. "For such children, there can never be too many options."

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.