Tennessee House Passes School Choice Initiative

Tennessee House Passes School Choice Initiative

April 22, 2015

RELEASE: Excel National Applauds Tennessee House for Passage of School Choice Initiative
The Individualized Education Act provides choice in education to children with special needs

Tallahassee, Fla.  – Today, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed the Individualized Education Act (HB 138), giving new hope to special needs students across the Volunteer State, one in three of whom currently do not graduate high school.  Sponsored by Representative Debra Moody, the Act will provide pathways to customized education for students with special needs, giving parents the flexibility to direct their child’s funding to the schools, courses, programs and services that best fit the learning needs of their child. Yesterday, the Senate passed its companion bill, SB 27 by Senate Education Committee Chair Dolores Gresham.

Excellence in Education National (@Excel_National) Executive Director Patricia Levesque said, “Parents of students with special needs have the right to find the best education options for their children. Using innovative ways to manage funds and deliver educational services, Tennessee’s Individualized Education Act will give parents the support to choose the individual services that best suit their children’s unique needs. We thank Representative Debra Moody and Senator Dolores Gresham for their tireless advocacy for the Individualized Education Act, as well as our coalition partners in this landmark effort: Americans for Prosperity, the Beacon Center of Tennessee, StudentsFirst and the Tennessee Federation for Children.”

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Facts about the Individualized Education Act, SB 27 and HB 138:

  • The Individualized Education Act provides a customized education for students with special needs, 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).
  • The Individualized Education Act provides 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.
  • The Individualized Education Act also:
    • Requires the Department to ensure funds are used only for educational purposes.
    • Provides parents with a written explanation of the allowable uses of the money and their responsibilities.
    • Provides for random, quarterly and annual audits.
    • Sets up fraud reporting.
    • Has 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.