March 31, 2015
Excel National Applauds Tennessee House Committee for Creating Choice in Education
Bill gives parents a powerful tool to choose the best education option for their children with special needs
Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, the Tennessee House of Representatives Education Instruction and Programs Committee passed the Individualized Education Act (HB 138). The Tennessee Senate Education Committee passed their companion bill, SB 27, on March 18. This legislation would ensure parents of students with special needs have access to the best education options for their children. Excellence in Education National (@Excel_National) Executive Director Patricia Levesque issued the following statement in support of the legislation.
“Tennessee’s most vulnerable students—children with special needs—and their parents deserve the opportunity to choose the best education options to help them succeed in school. Many parents and educators have confirmed that choice is a powerful tool that can change the life of a child with special needs. The Individualized Education Act is landmark legislation that empowers parents to find the right education path that fits their child’s unique learning abilities. With one in three students with special needs in Tennessee not graduating, it is imperative that we allow parents to pursue options beyond their local public school to change this outcome.
“We thank bill sponsors Representative Debra Moody and Senator Dolores Gresham for their dedication to the children of Tennessee. We encourage the General Assembly to make the future success of students with special needs a priority and to give this important legislation the consideration it deserves.”
Facts about the Individualized Education Act, SB 27 and HB 138:
- The Individualized Education Act provides a customized education for students with special needs by giving parents the flexibility to direct their child’s funding to the schools, courses, programs and services that best fit their children’s needs through an Individualized Education Account (IEA).
- Both bills provide for the Department of Education to deduct up to four percent from IEA funds to cover the costs of administering the program. Both the state and local school districts are projected to save money under the program.
- Both bills require the Department to ensure funds are used only for educational purposes; provide parents with a written explanation of the allowable uses of the money and their responsibilities; conduct random, quarterly and annual audits; set up fraud reporting; and have the ability to suspend or terminate any school or provider that fails to comply.
- Participating students are also required to partake in annual testing, and the results must be reported.
For more information visit www.ExcelNational.org.