Oklahoma Supreme Court upholds scholarship program

The Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld the Lindsey Nicole Henry scholarship program, overturning a district court ruling that held that the program violated Oklahoma’s Constitution.

The Lindsey Nicole Henry Act established a scholarship fund for parents of disabled children to receive scholarship money to send their children to a private K-12 school. The scholarships must be used at one of more than 50 participating schools, some of which, but not all, are religious.

“I have always contended that the Lindsey Nicole Henry scholarship program is constitutional, and with the decision of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, parents of students with disabilities will once again be empowered to seek educational opportunities to help their students learn and succeed,” Attorney General Scott Pruitt said. “The court’s decision was appropriate to ensure that parents in Oklahoma are given the opportunity to choose a school for their children based on the educational needs of their child, a decision that I firmly believe should be made by parents, and not bureaucrats. I hope that today’s ruling, the second time that the Oklahoma Supreme Court has rejected these attacks on the program, will finally put an end to these shameful attacks on a wonderful program.”

Governor Mary Fallin supported the decision.

“This program saves money for the public school system, while benefiting children with special needs by allowing them to select the educational options that best suits them. This is a victory for students with disabilities across our state and for their families,” Fallin said. “This also is a victory for education in Oklahoma. All students learn differently, so each of them should have the opportunity to attend a school that offers the best environment for success. This can be accomplished through Education Savings Accounts, which I encourage legislators to approve this session, while still protecting school finances.”

Pruitt also announced charges filed against a Claremore nurse for the neglect of an elderly resident.

Brianna Lynn Parks-Farris, 30, of Chelsea, worked as a Certified Nurse Aide at Autumn Wood Memory Care in Claremore.

A resident of the facility was found in the hallway, soaked in urine and with a deep gash on her elbow. Parks-Farris stated she checked on the resident at the beginning of her shift, but had been overworked and unable to check on the resident again.

However, cell phone records showed Parks-Farris using the Internet and texting during that same time period. It is alleged Parks-Farris later admitted she never checked on the resident during her shift.

Parks-Farris is charged with one count of neglect by caretaker. If convicted, Parks-Farris faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of $10,000.