Excerpt from: Disability Law (click for full article)
A few weeks ago (but just publicized last week), the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter
to Wisconsin's state Superintendent of Public Instruction regarding the
Division's ADA investigation of the Milwaukee school voucher program.
The letter contains a number of important pronouncements regarding the
responsibilities of states that operate voucher programs to prevent
discrimination by the schools -- public and private -- that receive
vouchers under those programs.
The first important pronouncement is that, even when parents use vouchers to attend private schools, the state retains an obligation to prevent discrimination against students with disabilities by the schools participating in the voucher program:
DPI's obligation to eliminate discrimination against students with disabilities in its administration of the school choice program is not obviated by the fact that the schools participating in the program are private secular and religious schools. Indeed, courts recognize that the agency administering a public program has the authority and obligation under Title II to take appropriate steps in its enforcement of program requirements to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities, regardless of whether services are delivered directly by a public entity or provided through a third party. [Many case cites omitted.] In short, the State cannot, by delegating the education function to private voucher schools, place MPCP students beyond the reach of the federal laws that require Wisconsin to eliminate disability discrimination in its administration of public programs.