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Ruling: Arizona school voucher program is constitutional

A new court ruling says Arizona’s school voucher program for students with disabilities is constitutional.

The ruling released Thursday rejects arguments by opponents of the program that it violates state constitutional prohibitions on using public money to support religious or private schools.

Judge Maria del Mar Verdin of Maricopa County Superior Court agreed with school-choice advocates who support the program that it is constitutional because it gives discretion to parents on how to spend the money.

That means the state, Verdin wrote, “is not directing where monies are going to go.”

Don Peters, a lawyer for the challengers, said they disagree with the judge’s ruling and will appeal it to the state Court of Appeals.

The challengers include groups representing school district boards, teachers and school business officials.

The Arizona Legislature approved a bill creating the program in 2011. Gov. Jan Brewer signed it into law.

The program specifies that parents must spend the voucher money on education costs. Those can include private school tuition, tutoring, required textbooks and savings for college expenses.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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