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Republican Lawmaker Aims To Move School Voucher Oversight To A Private Company

Kathy Hoffman
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Kathy Hoffman speaks to Arizona lawmakers on Feb. 4, 2019.

On Wednesday, Arizona lawmakers debated a proposal from Republican Sen. David Livingston to sweep oversight of the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program — more commonly known as vouchers — from the Department of Education and hire a private company to oversee it.

That job would then go to the Arizona Treasurer’s Office, run by ESA-supporter Kimberly Yee.

This comes after the ESA program made headlines when the  Arizona Republic reported that parents in the program misspent more than $700,000 in public money. That included parents using their state-issued debit cards, meant to be spent on their children's education for transactions, at places like beauty supply stores, sports apparel shops and on music albums.

Former Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said then that the program was underfunded, so her staff was doing what they could without the resources they needed to properly oversee the program. But, Livingston told the Arizona Capitol Times this week that it’s hard to put more money into oversight that isn’t working.

The Show spoke with current Arizona Superintendent Kathy Hoffman about this, and she said she would like the chance to fix it first.

The Show also reached out to the bill’s sponsor Sen. David Livingston for this story, but have not gotten a response yet.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.