January 27, 2015
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Excellence in Education National Executive Director Executive Director Patricia Levesque released the following statement on the passage of the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act by the Mississippi Senate Education Committee today: “I applaud Senator Gray Tollison and the Mississippi Senate Education Committee for passing the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act (SB 2695) out of committee this morning and putting the state another step closer to meeting the learning needs of children with unique abilities. “Today, only 23 percent of Mississippi’s special needs students graduate with a high school diploma. Mississippi’s parents and their children deserve better. I applaud the leadership shown by Governor Phil Bryant, Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and bill sponsors Senator Nancy Collins and Representative Carolyn Crawford. Their commitment will help families to customize their child’s education by directing funds to schools, courses, programs and services of their choosing that best meet the specific needs of their child. We look forward to the full passage of this important bill by the Mississippi Legislature and encourage swift action on behalf of the state’s families.”
- This is a pilot program open to 500 students in year one and 500 new students each year after.
- Students with an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) within the past 18 months will be eligible to apply for an Education Scholarship Account (ESA).
- Each account could be spent on approved educational expenses like private school tuition, educational therapy, and tutoring.
- Parents will sign a compliance agreement for proper use of funds and each account will be audited.
- Participating private schools must be accredited; tutors and therapists must be licensed or certified.
Background on Education Scholarship Accounts:
- Education scholarship accounts (also commonly referred to as education savings accounts or ESAs) are an innovative way to bring customization to K-12 education.
- ESAs allow parents to direct their child’s funding to the schools, courses, programs and services of their choice.
- Parents are able to save unused funds for higher education expenses – creating an incentive for parents to judge all K-12 service expenses not only on quality but also on cost.
ESAs create a personal approach to education, where the ultimate goal is maximizing each child’s natural learning abilities.