The AACS Legislative Office monitors issues that affect the educational freedom and religious liberty of Christian schools.
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The Washington Flyer
July 8, 2016

“Duty is ours, results are God’s.”
John Quincy Adams
Senate Amendment Offered to Protect Schools in Voucher Programs
Senator Ron Johnson has introduced an
amendment that would offer protection for private schools participating in voucher programs from being targeted by the Administration for alleged discrimination. In 2011, Disability Rights Wisconsin and the Americans Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit charging that private schools participating in the Wisconsin voucher program were allowed to discriminate since they were not required to follow all points of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They charged that by not requiring private schools to offer all services to students with disabilities, some students would not be afforded the same opportunities as others and, therefore, suffer discrimination. After the lawsuit was filed, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a probe into the program but found no evidence of wrongdoing. A spokesman for Senator Johnson, Paige Alwood, explained that private schools that participate in a voucher program generally have a relatively small percentage of students using the vouchers and should not be subject to all the requirements of the ADA, a law intended to provide equal access to government institutions. She stated, “The purpose of the amendment is to prohibit the DOJ from exerting jurisdiction over a private school if the school accepts a voucher payment from a parent, be it from one parent or hundreds of parents. . . . This assertion by the DOJ could be devastating for low-income students.’’ Choice Wisconsin President Jim Bender supports the amendment and pointed out that the language would still allow the Department of Justice to investigate true violations of the law. The amendment was offered to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill currently being considered in the Senate.


Judge Blocks Pro-life Bill
Last week, a bill banning the practice of aborting babies with Down syndrome was
blocked by an Indiana judge. The Dignity for the Unborn Law, which protected babies from being aborted simply because of race, sex or a genetic disability, was signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Mike Pence. Contained in the bill were several other regulating measures, such as requiring that the aborted babies be disposed of by burial or cremation, backing up a previous 2015 law requiring humane disposal of the aborted babies’ bodies. At the request of Planned Parenthood, however, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt of the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Indiana issued an injunction against the new law just one day before the law would take effect. Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter responded to the decision, stating, “Today a federal judge denied the civil rights of unborn children, then proceeded to equate aborted children to common medical waste by blocking dignified disposal. This ruling is an appalling human rights injustice and we urge the state to appeal.” Indiana State Senator Liz Brown, who authored and sponsored the legislation, also expressed grave concern: “Today’s decision is profoundly disappointing because bigotry against these young people is otherwise disappearing from our society. Their equal protection under the law is long overdue and we will not stop fighting to protect them here in Indiana.”



DOE Refuses to Appear at Hearing on Transgender Policy
The Department of Education is
refusing to appear before a Senate subcommittee to answer questions regarding the transgender guidance letter. Issued in May, the letter directed public schools to adopt a new transgender bathroom policy which would allow students to use the restroom of their chosen gender and implied that failure to adopt such a policy could result in loss of federal funding. The Senate Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management scheduled a hearing for Wednesday, July 6, to address the letter and overreaching action of the Administration in issuing such a sweeping directive without going through proper Congressional channels to create law. However, Administration officials canceled their appearance, offering no explanation as to why they could not attend and no alternative dates for rescheduling. Earlier in June, the Department of Education, along with the Department of Labor, had been scheduled to testify at another hearing regarding overreaching guidance, but that hearing was canceled because the Senate adjourned early. Senator James Lankford (OK), Chairman of the Senate subcommittee, has indicated he is determined to hold the Administration accountable in a rescheduled hearing. He stated, “The agencies are balking at that time period, and we are currently trying to reschedule it for later. We will continue to do that. It is extremely important.”

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American Association of Christian Schools
Jamison Coppola: Legislative Director
Maureen Van Den Berg: Policy Analyst

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