For immediate release: January 23, 2024
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Horne: State Board upholds ADE rejection of inappropriate ESA expense requests
Demonstrates ADE commitment to strict oversight
PHOENIX – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne is applauding this week’s unanimous action by the State Board of Education to uphold the Department of Education’s rejection of questionable Empowerment Scholarship Account expense requests.
Horne said, “In recent months much has been made of supposedly extravagant ESA expense approvals. But our policy of reviewing all requests is far different from that of my predecessor who did allow a number of inappropriate expenses to be approved and which ESA opponents continue to falsely claim as alleged abuses today. The department and State Board have again shown this week that we take these expense approvals seriously and will not tolerate attempts to go beyond what the law permits. We allow only what public schools provide at reasonable cost.”
In Monday’s Board meeting, two expense requests that had been rejected by the department were brought to the Board on appeal by the parents. Those appeals were rejected by the Board.
One request was for a $2,300 commercial freeze dryer, which serves no educational purpose, and is therefore not allowable under state law. The other rejected request was for car seats, which are also not a legitimate educational expense. State law already mandates that every child be secured in a car seat, and parents do not have the right to use ESA funds to buy something they are already required to provide.
In coming months, the department expects to defend against an appeal from a parent requesting a $500 dune buggy, an expense clearly not allowed under the law.
Horne added, “Despite the claims we hear from opponents of the ESA program, under my watch we review every expense request regardless of dollar amount. Things such as commercial freeze dryers and dune buggies that might be approved under the previous administration are being rejected now. In recent months, ESA staff reviewed 252,000 orders and rejected 12,200 of them. This work takes extra time and effort, but it is necessary to make sure ESA taxpayer funds are spent for valid educational purposes and are in line with state law.”