§18-31-11. Requirements for and rights of education service providers.

(a) To be eligible to accept payments from a Hope Scholarship account, an education service provider shall:

(1) Submit notice to the board that they wish to participate in the Hope Scholarship Program;

(2) Provide participating parents with a receipt for all qualifying educational expenses for the Hope Scholarship student;

(3) Agree not to refund, rebate, or share Hope Scholarship funds with parents or students in any manner, except that funds may be remitted or refunded to a Hope Scholarship account in accordance with §18-31-7(c) of this code;

(4) Certify that it will not discriminate on any basis prohibited by 42 U.S.C. 1981;

(5) Submit any employee or other person who will have contact with Hope Scholarship students receiving services from the provider to a criminal background check and certify that said background check does not indicate conviction of a felony involving violence to the person and that the employee or other person is not on a federal or state sex offender registry; and

(6) In the case of a participating school, provide notice of each Hope Scholarship student's enrollment annually to the county superintendent of any student for which a student's tuition is being paid through the Hope Scholarship Program.

(b) This article does not limit the independence or autonomy of an education service provider or make the actions of an education service provider the actions of the state government.

(c) Education service providers shall be given maximum freedom to provide for the educational needs of Hope Scholarship students without governmental control.

(d) A participating school or education service provider is not required to alter its creed, practices, admission policy, hiring policy or curriculum in order to accept eligible recipients whose parents pay tuition or fees from a Hope Scholarship account pursuant to this article: Provided, That an education service provider is prohibited from requiring a student or family to pay tuition, costs, or fees above or in addition to the provider's regular tuition or fee schedule based in whole or in part upon a student or family member's participation in the Hope Scholarship Program.

(e) This article does not expand the regulatory authority of the state, its officers, or any school district to impose any additional regulation of education service providers beyond those necessary to enforce the requirements of the program.