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Special Needs Children Have More Education Choices in Georgia

Lisa Snell
April 24, 2007, 8:56am

More than 13 states have considered legislation to offer school vouchers to special education students in 2007. Georgia becomes the first state in 2007 to actually approve vouchers for special needs students. Read the details below from the press release from the Milton Friedman Foundation: Special needs voucher bill sent to Georgia governor. Over 4,100 students expected to exercise educational freedom in the first year INDIANAPOLIS–The Georgia House passed a special needs voucher bill on Friday by a vote of 91-84. The House version of the program, which will allow parents of a child with a defined disability to choose their child's school, was immediately approved by the Senate and has been sent to Gov. Sonny Perdue for his signature. "This is how our education system should work," said Robert Enlow, executive director and COO of the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation. "Parents should be free to choose the education that works best for their child." Supporters of the program estimate that over 4,100 special education students currently enrolled in public schools will use the voucher in the first year. The average voucher amount is estimated to be around $9,000, which represents the share of what the state pays to educate each special needs child. Senate Bill 10 was introduced by Sen. Eric Johnson and was carried in the House by Rep. David Casas. "The legislators in Georgia worked tirelessly to make this happen for the parents of special needs children," said Gordon St. Angelo, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation. "When elected officials listen to the demands of their constituents, the result is amazing." See Alliance for School Choice Press release here. Similarly, Nevada is also close to passing a special needs voucher. Check out Alliance for School Choice coverage here. Nevada families with children with special needs are one step closer to having a choice when it comes to their child's education. The Special Needs Scholarship program, which will allow children with disabilities to attend the public or private school that best meets their complex educational needs, passed the Senate Human Resources and Education Committee on April 12. The bill will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, April 25. This was an historic moment for Nevada, as a school choice-related bill has never progressed this far in the state. SB 158 is sponsored by Sen. Barbara Cegavske. The program would allow parents of students with disabilities to send their child to the out-of-district public school or private school of their choice, if the parents are dissatisfied with their child's progress under their Individualized Education Program (IEP). The amount of the scholarship would be less than or equal to the amount the student receives for his or her education in their assigned public school. Participating private schools must demonstrate financial viability and meet state nondiscrimination and safety requirements.

Lisa Snell is Director of Education


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