§18-31-10. Auditing of Hope Scholarship Program; suspension of accounts and providers.
(a) The board may propose legislative rules for legislative approval pursuant to §29A-3-1 et seq. of this code for the auditing of individual Hope Scholarship accounts and shall conduct or contract for the random auditing of individual Hope Scholarship accounts as needed to ensure compliance with the requirements of this article and rules promulgated pursuant to this article.
(b) As part of the auditing process, the board may remove a parent or eligible recipient from the Hope Scholarship program and close a Hope Scholarship account for failure to comply with the terms of the parental agreement required by §18-31-5 of this code, failure to comply with the applicable laws, failure of the student to remain eligible, or intentional and fraudulent misuse of Hope Scholarship funds: Provided, That the board shall create procedures to ensure that a fair process exists to determine the removal of a parent or eligible recipient from the Hope Scholarship program and a parent or Hope Scholarship student may appeal the decision to make the student ineligible for funds to the board.
(c) The board may conduct or contract for the audit of education service providers accepting payments from Hope Scholarship accounts if it determines that the education service provider has:
(1) Intentionally and substantially misrepresented information or failed to refund any overpayments in a timely manner; or
(2) Routinely failed to provide students with promised educational goods or services.
(d) If the board determines that an education service provider has intentionally and substantially misused Hope Scholarship funds, the board may bar the education service provider from continuing to receive payments. The board shall create procedures to ensure that a fair process exists to determine whether an education service provider may be barred from receiving payment from Hope Scholarship accounts and an education service provider may appeal a decision to bar it from receiving payments to the board. If the board bars an education service provider from receiving payments from Hope Scholarship accounts, it shall notify parents and students of its decision as quickly as possible.
(e) If the board obtains evidence of potential fraudulent use of Hope Scholarship funds, it may refer suspected cases to the State Auditor for purposes of investigation, collection and potential criminal investigation.