People have long come to expect a choice when it comes to their shopping. After all, not everyone has the same needs or wants. It’s an uncontroversial idea in nearly every facet of life. But for far too many, K-12 education is an exception that leaves parents with one option only—the assigned public school based on where they live. Thankfully, many states, including Utah, have adopted educational choice programs that empower parents with the ability to select from a menu of educational options that best fit their child’s needs. The Utah Fits All Scholarship (UFAS) Program does exactly that, which is why parents decided to fight back when the public school teachers’ union filed a lawsuit to deny Utah families that opportunity. Maria Ruiz and Tiffany Brown have teamed up with the Partnership for Educational Choice—a joint project of the Institute for Justice and EdChoice—to intervene in the lawsuit and defend this educational choice program so Utah families have a choice with their child’s education.   

Maria Ruiz is the mother of two children, both of whom attend private schools that meet their individual needs. Tiffany Brown is the mother of eight children, one with special needs, and seven of her children attend private schools to ensure their educational needs are met. Both of Maria’s children and seven of Tiffany’s children have received UFAS scholarships for the 2024-25 academic year. While Maria and Tiffany face constant financial struggles to afford tuition, each feels strongly their children’s schools are the best environment for them.

The UFAS Program is an educational choice program that provides families with up to $8,000 a year in an education savings account. Families can use the funds to pay for a wide range of education -related expenses, including private school tuition, educational or therapeutic services for students with disabilities, tutoring services, textbooks, curricula, and testing fees. The program prioritizes students with the greatest financial needs. It has proven enormously popular. More than 27,000 Utah families applied for the 10,000 accounts available in the first year of the program, demonstrating the overwhelming demand for educational choice that empowers students over systems.

On May 29, 2024, however, the Utah Education Association and a member of the Utah State Board of Education filed a lawsuit challenging the UFAS Program under the Utah Constitution. They seek to eliminate the program in order to protect the monopoly on education the public school union currently enjoys.

The lawsuit targeting the UFAS Program lacks merit, and it would permanently deprive thousands of Utah families of the educational options that they have planned for their children in 2024-25 and into the future. That’s why Maria and Tiffany, along with the Partnership for Educational Choice, will fight to protect the program for all Utah families. The program fully complies with the Utah Constitution and helps Utah families exercise their fundamental right to direct their child’s education.

Case Team


Arif Panju

Managing Attorney of the Texas Office


Case Documents

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