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Letter to the Editor: Proposed Carson Smith rule violates state law

Salt Lake City

Dear Editor,

Proposed Carson Smith rule violates state law

State Board set to adopt proposal rejected by Legislature, Gov. Huntsman and Gov. Walker

Education Excellence Utah today filed notice with the State Board of Education that the proposed rule to implement the Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship violates state law. If the Board adopts the rule as written, Education Excellence Utah will challenge the rule in court.

"The Legislature, Governor Walker and Governor Huntsman have already rejected the State Board's proposal," said Maxwell A. Miller, an attorney with Parsons Behle & Latimer. "If the State Board won't abide the decisions of the state's constitutional officers," he continued, "perhaps the courts can persuade them."

Following her veto of the Carson Smith Scholarship in 2004, former-Gov. Walker convened a Task Force to recommend how to spend the $1.4 million the Legislature set aside for Carson Smith scholarships. Former-Gov. Walker rejected the Task Force recommendation of funneling that money to the Pingree School. If adopted, the Board's current rule would funnel the same $1.4 million to the Carmen B. Pingree School and the Woodland Hills School.

"The Carson Smith program is about helping every child with disabilities, not just the children at Pingree or Woodland Hills," said Cheryl Smith, the mother who has spearheaded the drive for this program.

"This program is about special needs kids, regardless of where they attend school," said Rep. Merlynn Newbold, the sponsor of the Carson Smith Scholarship. "Children with special needs who now attend private schools are there because their needs are better met. This program should include children with any disability in any part of the state.

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