Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman today announced the hiring of Karla Escobar as the Arizona Department of Education’s (ADE’s) new Director of the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program. Escobar has worked at ADE for the last seven years, having previously served in the role as ESA Director from February 2015 until April 2016, and most recently as a Dispute Resolution Compliant Investigator.
“I am excited to work with Karla to ensure that the department manages this program with full transparency and accountability,” said Superintendent Hoffman. “This has been a very visible program over the past few years, which is why we have been particularly deliberate and especially thorough with our approach towards the program and the hiring process. We interviewed several external and internal candidates before deciding on Karla, who will not only provide both historical knowledge, but also seize upon this opportunity to restore confidence in the delivery of this program.”
Escobar brings with her a detailed understanding of how the agency needs to adhere to all relevant state and federal regulations, as well as an ability to coordinate payments with the treasurer’s office and accurately process applications in a timely manner. She will work closely with ADE leadership to recommend policy and legislative changes to better improve program outcomes.
In addition to her duties as ESA Director, Escobar will assist Superintendent Hoffman in leading a new ESA Task Force. The purpose of the task force is to engage stakeholders and examine all methods for improving program management.
The education stakeholders involved in this task force include the governor’s office, the treasurer’s office, American Federation for Children, Save Our Schools and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. The task force’s aim is to seek bipartisan cooperation, an array of perspectives and a variety of solutions in order to determine the best course of action for the ESA program.
Escobar will lead a staff of 11 other full-time employees, managing a program that dispersed roughly $58.7 million to approximately 5,000 students this past school year. The new ESA Director, who is fluent in Spanish and has a master’s degree in education, will bring a breadth of expertise to the position.
More information on the ESA program is available at www.azed.gov/esa.