State Superintendent Janet Barresi has released emails between one of her challengers and local school administrators showing what she says is a lack of support for a scholarship program for special needs children. Candidate Joy Hofmeister responds in an exclusive interview with Channel 8.
The emails between candidate Joy Hofmeister and local district leaders are about the Lindsey Nichole Henry scholarship program.
The program provides state-funded scholarships for special needs children to attend private schools.
Jenks and Union schools filed lawsuits against parents who qualified for the scholarships.
Those lawsuits were eventually thrown out and lawmakers passed a law that would require school districts to pay for parents' legal fees if they engage parents in frivolous lawsuits.
"The emails leave no doubt that Joy Hofmeister supported lawsuit harassment of families whose children have special needs," said Robyn Matthews, campaign manager for Janet Barresi.
"She then opposed legislation to protect those families from financial ruin if they are targeted by frivolous lawsuits. And then she endorsed efforts to gut the scholarship program so children with special needs are left trapped in schools unable to serve them. Her indifference to the very real challenges facing these families is staggering."
In an exclusive interview with Channel 8, Hofmeister calls the emails an "attempt by a sitting incumbent who is desperate to discredit anyone who provides a challenge to her."
"I am standing with parents," Hofmeister said. "It is important that I think we put the politics aside and put students first."
Hofmesiter said some of the comments in the emails were taken out of context.
WEB EXTRA: Read the Emails