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Senate committee kills bill intended to create transparency for families with special needs students

The Senate Education Committee has killed a bill intended to create more transparency among private schools for parents of students with disabilities.

SB 1354 would’ve required a school taking Empowerment Scholarship Account dollars to disclose the disability services it offers before a parent enrolls their child and provide a refund if the student’s needs weren’t met. 

ESAs allow families to use public funds to put their student in a private or parochial school. 

Democratic Sen. Christine Marsh is the bill’s sponsor. She said if the student had an existing IEP or 504 plan from a public school, the new one would have to honor it.

“However, if they can’t and the parent still would like to put their child in that school, they just need to sign a waiver in order to still attend that private school," Marsh said.

Republican Justine Wadsack wasn't a fan of that idea.

“Those documents are contracts between a public school and [a] parent," Wadsack said. "Why should a private entity be bound to a contract between two other parties it is not affiliated with?”

Others were concerned the measure would create unnecessary red tape and put a regulatory burden on schools already providing those services.

The bill failed on a party-line vote.

Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.