March 11, 2015
Excellence in Education National Executive Director, Patricia Levesque, issued the following statementon the passage of The Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act in the Mississippi House of Representatives. This legislation (SB 2695) will provide parents of students with special needs with access to education options that best suit the needs of their child.
“Today, the Mississippi House of Representatives stood up for students with special needs by passing the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act. I applaud Representative Carolyn Crawford, as a legislator and mother, for her efforts to bring this meaningful legislation to a vote, and Speaker Philip Gunn and Education Committee Chair John Moore for their leadership in ensuring successful passage.
“This vote sends a clear statement that Mississippi is committed to improving education for all children, including the most vulnerable. By supporting this policy with dedicated funding, the Mississippi House of Representatives has offered parents the opportunity to ensure their students with special needs learn, grow and have a chance for success.
“We thank Governor Phil Bryant for his support of this important issue. We look forward to the Senate passing the bill and sending to Governor Bryant for his signature on this historic legislation.”
Facts about The Equal Opportunity for Students Special Needs Act:
- 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 will be funded at approximately $6,500 per child per year and 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 are able to direct their child’s funding to the schools, courses, programs and services of their choice.
- ESAs create a personal approach to education, where the ultimate goal is maximizing each child’s natural learning abilities.