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Waivers allowing private schools to enroll more voucher students rejected

Three private voucher schools sought to take advantage of a bill signed into law just last month, which grants the State Board of Education the authority to approve or deny waivers for penalties resulting from underperformance.

The State Board of Education reviewed waiver requests from Central Christian Academy, Turning Point and Lutheran South Unity School. The schools had improved their school letter grades over the course of one year following multiple years of D or F grades. If granted, the waiver would have allowed the schools to continue admitting new voucher students.

The three private voucher schools have received more than $4.6 million in vouchers since 2014.

While more board members voted in favor of the motion to approve the waivers, the motion failed due to lack of a quorum. Gordon Hendry, Steve Yager and State Superintendent Dr. Jennifer McCormick were opposed.

The new law is vague on what academic improvement entails, only requiring that a majority of students show improvement.

ISTA strongly opposed the bill throughout the legislative session, because it gives failing voucher schools a pass for low performance and allows a new voucher pathway via new school accreditation – schools with no track record.

ISTA urged members of the state board to oppose granting waivers to the three private voucher schools on Wednesday.

ISTA thanks the board members who opposed the motion to approve waivers.