Friday, May 27, 2011

Fallin Inks Student Disabilities Scholarship Bill

Governor Fallin has signed legislation modifying the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program Act to ensure children with special needs receive scholarships in a prompt manner.

House Bill 1744 by Rep. Jason Nelson (R-Oklahoma City) and Senator Patrick Anderson (R-Enid) changes the law so school districts will no longer administer the program. Instead, the Department of Education will administer it.

“Last year, several school districts failed to provide scholarships to eligible special needs students, flagrantly violating the law,” said Nelson. “Thanks to the modifications in this bill, the State Department of Education will administer the program rather than local school districts. This will provide consistency and certainty for students and parents who choose to participate in the program.”

Last year, lawmakers voted allow a student with a disability (such as those with Down syndrome or Autism) who has an individualized education program (IEP) to receive state-funded scholarships to attend a private school. The scholarships come from the amount of money already designated for the education of those children.

After the program went into effect last August, several Tulsa-area schools voted to break the law, leading lawmakers to adjust the program this year.

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