Monday, December 3, 2007

Special Ed Vouchers in Texas

A Latino family in Texas is battling their local school district to cover the cost of sending their special needs son to a private school. They allege that the school district, Coppell ISD, has not fulfilled the requirements of their son's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and has allowed for him to suffer bullying and attacks by other students. The Dallas Morning News has the whole story, along with a brief history of this type of legal case.

The deciding word of this case will be "adequate," as in, is this child receiving an "adequate" education from his public school? If the court decides that he is not, the legal requirements of the IDEA Act will require the district to pay for his private school education.

Other states have formal programs to serve the needs of special education children. One example is Washington, DC, which follows the IDEA Act's requirements.

DC's current program pays the private school tuition of special education students who cannot be "adequately" educated within the existing public school system. This program has come under fire in the past because of its cost. Earlier this year, Mayor Adrian Fenty pledged to reform the city's special education programs that are offered in public school, so as to reduce the amount spent on sending students to private school.

In contrast, Florida offers a private school scholarship program to ALL special education students, regardless of whether or not their public schools are serving them adequately. Any student who attends a public school and has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is eligible. This program is called the McKay Scholarship Program.

Last year, the more than 18,000 students who participated in the McKay Scholarship Program received an average of $7,206 to attend private schools. The program has been ranked as exemplary amongst school choice supporters, especialy because of its broad reach and few participation restrictions.

No comments: