Florida School Vouchers Discriminate Against Students with Disabilities.

 image no descrimination

“No publicly funded school should be allowed to discriminate,” said Representative Eskamani. (FL House-Dem). “I hope my legislative colleagues would agree that this country has moved beyond the notion of ‘separate but equal’ and that we can — at the very least — hold private voucher schools accountable to…offensive and discriminatory practices.”

The Florida Family Empowerment Scholarship Program (FFES) directly steers taxpayer money to private schools, an approach invalidated in 2006 by the Florida Supreme Court. At the time, justices ruled that Jeb Bush’s first-in-the-nation, statewide private school voucher program – which also used taxpayer dollars – violated the state constitution.

In that 5-2 ruling, justices said that giving children in the state’s lowest-rated public schools taxpayer money to attend private or parochial schools, “diverts public dollars into separate, private systems … parallel to and in competition with the free public schools.”

FFES allows public school students from low- and middle-income families to receive vouchers to attend private schools of their choice.

School vouchers are government-funded scholarships that allow public school students to attend private schools. Vouchers redirect state per-pupil education funding, giving it directly to individual families instead of school districts.

Critics contend that these programs divert funds from traditional public schools, thereby generating unequal outcomes for students. In addition, some critics argue that school voucher programs wrongly direct tax dollars to religious organizations, which operate many private schools.

Trinity

In fact, Trinity Christian Academy in Volusia County denies admission to students who are gay or have gay parents.  It also denies students with mental disorders, limited intellectual functions, and who are not ambulatory.

Despite this statement it proudly posts on their website:

“YOU WILL FIND THAT TRINITY CHURCH IS WARM AND INVITING.  WE ARE AN EXCITING PLACE THAT DESIRES TO MINISTER TO THE ENTIRE FAMILY.  WE CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU THIS SUNDAY!”

Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel wrote on August 6, 2019 that Trinity also has “blatant policies against LGBT.”

Further, he wrote: “Policies to exclude gay or disabled students are allowed under Florida’s Choice Plan.  Public schools take everyone.”

“They do not want our kids,” says Stacey Hoagland, president of the Autism Society of Florida. “Our kids are costly. Our kids are expensive.”

Stacey Klim, an Indian River County school advocate and former candidate for the School District Board recently wrote: “It’s discriminatory. This whole ‘Choice’ lingo that our politicians and leaders hide behind is simply their way of discriminating against students of color, low income sexual orientation and disability.  Plain and simple.

Stacey

Stacey Klim

I have tried numerous times to meet with our Representative Erin Grall (R-Florida House) to discuss her discriminatory beliefs about our education system, but according to her aide, Ed Barenborg (whose wife Teri Barenborg is on IRC School Board) she is ‘too busy’.

She continually votes against students like my son, who is disabled, when she votes for ‘school choice’.  Perhaps that is why she has yet again received an “F” grading from the Florida Education Association. Because she doesn’t support all children in their education when she votes against a select few.

Personally, I’m tired of being told that my son’s education isn’t important. That he doesn’t matter. That he doesn’t deserve a ‘choice’. When are we all going to step up and say ‘Enough is enough’!  All children get a choice, or no children get a choice.”

Once again, don’t forget, in 2006 the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Bush’s first-in-the-nation, statewide private school voucher program – which also used taxpayer dollars – violated the state constitution.

In that 5-2 ruling, justices said that giving children in the state’s lowest-rated public schools taxpayer money to attend private or parochial schools, “diverts public dollars into separate, private systems … parallel to and in competition with the free public schools.”

Does the Florida Family Empowerment Scholarship Program violate the law? There will surely be legal challenges.

Desantis

Saying he wants to “empower parents,” Gov. Ron DeSantis, joined by key lawmakers, on May 9, 2019 at Potter’s House Christian Academy in Jacksonville and at Mount Moriah Christian Fundamental Academy in St. Petersburg, signed a major education bill that includes creating a controversial school-vouchers program.

The prior week the Legislature gave final approval to the bill (SB 7070), which includes creating the FFES to provide vouchers to as many as 18,000 students next year to attend private schools.

“Let’s empower parents. Let’s allow them to make the decisions, and I think that is going to mean more achievements in the future for all of our students,” DeSantis said.

Sources:

Daytona Beach News-Journal, April 30, 2019

BALLOTAPEDIA

Orlando Sentinel, August 6, 2019

Daily Commercial, May 10, 2019

 

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