Anti-Fraud Bill Signed into Law – Ensuring Accountability in Arizona’s School Choice Program

PHOENIX, A.Z. (May 3, 2013) – The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today praised Gov. Jan Brewer for signing House Bill 2458 into law only three days after the bill reached her desk. HB 2458 protects the integrity of Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) and has received unanimous support from the legislature. The ESA program, which is Arizona’s newest educational choice program, allows parents to take unprecedented control over their children’s education.

“Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts program allows parents more educational choices and lifts up children who need more school options,” said Kevin P. Chavous, executive counsel for the American Federation of Children. “This law ensures the program is accountable and protected from abuse.”

The anti-fraud legislation, sponsored by Rep. Paul Boyer, received tremendous bipartisan support, passing unanimously in the final floor vote earlier this week.

As part of the new anti-fraud law some of the accountability measures include:

  • The Arizona Department of Education will conduct quarterly and annual audits of the education savings accounts to protect ESAs from abuse.
  • The Arizona Department of Education can remove a parent or qualified student from ESA eligibility if the parent or student fails to comply with the terms of the contract, applicable laws, rules or orders.
  • The Arizona Department of Education can adopt other policies to administer ESAs and monitor fraud, such as establishing an anonymous telephone hotline for fraud reporting.

The ESA program allows parents to receive 90 percent of the per-pupil expenditure to use on educational tools for their children, including: tuition, textbooks and tutoring. Beginning in the 2013-14 school year, eligibility for the program greatly expands to include more than 200,000 Arizona families. Eligibility requirements now include students who have special needs, attend schools rated D or F, children of active duty U.S. military members, and children in permanent placement foster care situations.