tampabay.com

Bush signs bill giving vouchers to children in stricken program

The new law will allow qualifying students to receive vouchers from an unchallenged program for children from poor families, which is financed through corporate tax credits.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published June 7, 2006


TALLAHASSEE - About 700 students who received unconstitutional vouchers can transfer to another taxpayer-funded program that pays for private schooling under a bill Gov. Jeb Bush signed into law Tuesday.

The measure also imposes new accountability requirements on parochial and other private schools that voucher students including fingerprinting and background checks of teachers and other staff members.

The Florida Supreme Court in January ruled the Opportunity Scholarship Program, a cornerstone of Bush's "A-Plus" plan for school accountability and improvement, violated a provision of the state Constitution that requires a uniform system of free public schools.

Public schools students who received failing grades in two years out of four were able to attend private schools at public expense.

The new law will allow those students, if they qualify, to receive vouchers from an unchallenged program for children from poor families, which is financed through corporate tax credits.

It applies only to those who had opportunity vouchers. The Legislature declined to pass a bill that would have provided corporate vouchers for future failing school students.