The Edmond Sun

Local News

August 14, 2012

State high court to decide fate of autism scholarship

EDMOND — The state high court will rule on the constitutionality of a scholarship for children with autism and other neurological disorders.

Last month, the Oklahoma Supreme Court agreed to decide the constitutionality of House Bill 3393, the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program Act.  

Under the law, authored by state Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, and state Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, students with disabilities such as Down syndrome or autism who have an individualized education program qualify for scholarships to attend any public or private school meeting accreditation requirements of the State Board of Education.

At the time, Florida, Georgia, Utah, Ohio and Arizona had similar laws. Supporters said HB 3393 closely mirrored the Florida and Georgia laws, that it would give options to parents seeking the best and most appropriate learning environment for their child and that the U.S. Supreme Court had already upheld the constitutionality of using state money for special education programs in private schools.

Nelson has said speaking with families of special needs children taught him that the bill was hope for those who desperately needed those options.

HB 3393 went into effect on Aug. 27, 2010.

Afterward, some Jenks parents requested information about the scholarship for their children, and, in some cases, asking for scholarship checks to be sent to private schools on their behalf, according to a position statement on the issue by Jenks. The district stated it did not intend to pay any scholarship money to any parents or any private school under the law, whether the request came from a parent on an individualized education program or a private school.

Jenks argued the payment under HB 3393 to private sectarian schools violated Article II, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which precludes the use of public funds, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit or support of sectarian institutions.

Jenks argued the Legislature is only authorized by law to establish and maintain a free public school system, and the funding of private schools under HB 3393 violates Article I, Section 5 and Article XIII, Section 1 of the Oklahoma Constitution.

Jenks also cited a section regarding gifts (Article X, Section 15), a lack of a mechanism for a refund to the district and the creation of unknown tax liabilities to the district since it appeared such payments were income to the parents.

In the fall of 2010, several Tulsa-area public schools voted to not process the scholarships. Parents of special needs students sued Jenks Public Schools and Union Pubic Schools in Tulsa County over the denial of scholarships allowed under HB 3393.

In May 2011, the Legislature passed a follow-up bill, which gave the Oklahoma State Department of Education scholarship program oversight.

The scholarship is worth the state and local dollars spent on the child in his or her public school or private school tuition and fees, whichever is less, according to the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. The average voucher value in 2011–12 is $7,436. Last year, 135 students from 41 schools were participating.

In March 2012, a Tulsa District Court judge ruled that HB 3393 is unconstitutional since state funds behind the act could be used for tuition at a private, religious school.

After the state’s high court agreed to hear the appeal, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Good Shepherd Catholic School at Mercy filed an application with the court in support of the law.

Established in the fall of 2011, the private school was accredited by the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, according to information posted on the hospital’s website. The University of Central Oklahoma assists with staffing and training. Mercy provides the facilities, and the Inasmuch Foundation provided a loan.

In May, the school announced that it has received a $1,000 donation from McCaleb Homes for supplies and scholarships. The home builder donates $1,000 to a school or nonprofit for each home it completes in the Arbor Creek addition, located just east of Interstate 35 and Second Street in Edmond, based on the home buyer’s choice.

At the time, eight students were enrolled in the school. Once it reaches full capacity, it will enroll about 20 students with autism or similar neurological disorders and about five neurotypical students, ages 3-9. Each student has a behavioral interventionist who provides individual attention throughout each day.

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 1,000th baby group.jpg INTEGRIS welcomes 1,000th birth since opening in October 2011

    Being the father of a new baby boy is pretty exciting, but being the father of INTEGRIS Health Edmond’s 1,000th baby made it even more special.
    “When we got to the hospital, the night-shift nurse told us we were in a race with another couple who had gotten there at 7 a.m.,” said Bryan Lane, the new baby’s father.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • okco fair 100.jpg Oklahoma County Free Fair offers competition, free fun

    Oklahoma County residents are invited to compete in the 100th annual Oklahoma County Free Fair as they take part in many activities scheduled just for them.
    The county fair will get underway Aug. 21-23 at the Oklahoma State Fair Park and will be highlighted by its open adult and youth along with 4-H and Oklahoma Home and Community Education categories, as well as its special contest and activities.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Great Expectations names 4 Edmond public schools ‘Model Schools’

    Great Expectations, a non-profit foundation that provides intensive professional development to teachers and administrators, announces four Edmond Public Schools have earned the organization’s highest distinction: Model School. Based on Great Expectations theory implementation, there are three categories of recognition, including Transitional School, Progressive School and Model School.

    July 31, 2014

  • Grieving children find support at Calm Waters

    Calm Waters Center for Children and Families offers free support groups for children, ages 3–18 and their families whose lives have been affected by death or divorce.
    Oklahoma continues to rank among the top states in the nation for unintentional and premature deaths, leaving single parents raising children. Additionally, Oklahoma continues to have one of the highest divorce rates per capita in the nation. These tragedies leave children feeling isolated, sad, and uncertain.

    July 31, 2014

  • Church hosts adult Vacation BIble School

    “Jesus is the Source” will be the theme of Edmond First Church of the Nazarene’s second annual adult Vacation BIble School.
    The progam will be from 6-8:30 p.m. Aug. 4-7 at the church, located at 3001 S. Boulevard. It will include a light supper at 6 p.m. and songs, games, storytelling and crafts beginning at 6:30 p.m.
    Presenters will include members of the congregation acting as Bible characters and a special performer will be in from Texas.

    July 31, 2014

  • officers killed 1.jpg 67 cops die on duty across country

    The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reports that 67 officers have been killed in the line of duty during the first half of 2014 — a 31 percent increase from the same period last year.
    Of these 67 officers, 26 were killed in traffic-related incidents, 25 were killed by gunfire and 16 died due to job-related illnesses and other causes. California led all states with eight officer fatalities followed by Florida, New York, Texas and Virginia each with four peace officer fatalities.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lankford, James 2011.jpg Lankford, rest of Oklahoma delegation vote to sue president

    A Democratic leader said the House does not have standing to sue the president after members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation voted to do just that.
    At 6:28 p.m. Wednesday, members of the House approved by a 225-201 partisan margin H. Res. 676, which gives House leadership the authority to file a lawsuit challenging actions by President Barack Obam

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • UCO, local Y create community garden

    A new community garden is providing a transformative learning opportunity for students and helping stock UCO’s Central Pantry.
    The University of Central Oklahoma’s Volunteer and Service Learning Center and the Edmond Rankin YMCA are sponsoring the garden, providing a transformative learning opportunity for students, and organic fruits, vegetables and herbs for the food bank.

    July 31, 2014

  • MS_prisons 1.JPG DOC action could save $36.8 million annually

    The Oklahoma Department of Corrections expects to avert more than 2,100 offenders by 2021 saving more than $36.8 million annually, an audit states.
    Tuesday, State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones  released the results of a performance audit of the DOC that was requested by Gov. Mary Fallin. The audit for the period July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2013, distinctly focused on governance, financial management and capacity management.
    Audit recommendations included:

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • food bank.jpg Regional Food Bank receives donation

    At a special celebration event Wednesday, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation announced that over the last fiscal year they gave more than $30 million in cash and in-kind contributions to charitable organizations throughout Oklahoma. Additionally, the retailer and its Foundation have partnered with local food banks to provide more than 15 million pounds of food to residents.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza
Poll

The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
Undecided
     View Results