Special Education Scholarships for Children with Disabilities Information for Parents and School Administrators Representative Paul Stam July 21, 2014
Enclosed Information • How Does It Work? • Additional Information • States with Similar Programs • Beneficiary Case Study 1 • Beneficiary Case Study 2
How It Works: The Basics • The North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (SEAA) administers the scholarship program. • The scholarships are reimbursements for tuition, special education, related services, and educational technology costs incurred by parents. Family can be reimbursed for up to $3,000 per child per semester. • Applications are available on SEAA’s website by May 1st each year. Priority is given to students who received a scholarship during the previous semester. Additional scholarships will be awarded to eligible students in the order in which the applications are received. • SEAA shall notify parents in writing by July 1st of their eligibility to receive scholarships for costs incurred during the fall semester of that year and by December 1st for costs that will be incurred during the spring semester of the following year.
How It Works: Definitions • Child with a disability: A child with at least one disability who because of that disability requires special education and related services. • Disability: Includes mental retardation; hearing impairment, including deafness; speech or language impairment; visual impairment, including blindness; serious emotional disturbance; orthopedic impairment; autism; traumatic brain injury; other health impairments, specific learning disability, or other disability as may be required to be included under IDEA. • Special Education: Specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. The term includes instruction in physical education and instruction conducted in a classroom, the home, a hospital or institution, and other settings. • Related Services: Includes “transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, and includes speech-language pathology, and audiology services, interpreting services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy . . .” For the full definition see IDEA Section 300.34. • Educational Technology: As defined by SEAA, an item, piece of equipment, material, product, or system which may be purchased commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized and that is used primarily for educational purposes for a child with a disability.
How It Works: Eligibility Requirements Requirements A child must meet at least one of these requirements: Was enrolled in a NC public school during the previous semester Received special education or related services through an NC public school as a preschooler with a disability during the previous semester Was approved for a scholarship for the previous semester Is a kindergarten or first grade student who is identified as a child with a disability before the end of the child’s first year of school. In addition to meeting one of the above requirements, a child must meet ALL the following: Parent must provide SEAA with documentation of the child’s disability as provided to them by the public school or public school district office. Must be under the age of 22 and must not have received a high school diploma Cannot have been placed in a nonpublic school or facility by a public agency at public expense Must not have spent any time enrolled in a postsecondary institution as a full-time student taking at least 12 hours of academic credit. Cannot be receiving services from the public schools while enrolled at the nonpublic school. After initial receipt of a scholarship, a child must be reevaluated every three years.
How It Works: Reimbursement • Following the conclusion of each school semester, parents can be reimbursed for the following items as long as the provide the required documentation to SEAA: • Tuition – the student must be enrolled in a non-public school for 75 days of the semester • Special Education – the student must receive special education for 75 days of the semester • Related Services – the student must receive special education for at least 75 days of the semester to be eligible for reimbursement for related services • Educational Technology – the student must use the educational technology for 75 days of the semester. • SEAAmaintains a list of educational technology for which parents can be reimbursed. • Homeschool parents cannot be reimbursed for tuition or special education and related services provided to the child by a member of the household.
Additional Information • Before each semester, parents may submit documentation of the tuition, special education, related services, or educational technology costs that they anticipate incurring in order to get preapproval from Authority. • Scholarship applications and personally identifiable information related to eligible students are not public records. • A family should consider all options available for their child. A child in a private school does not have the same rights to receive special education and related services as the child would receive in a public school.
Additional Information Additional information about the program is made available on SEAA’s website: http://www.ncseaa.edu/CDSG.htm SEAA Contact Information:Phone: 1-855-330-3955 (toll-free) Email: email@example.comFax: 919-248-4687
States with Similar Programs • Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah all have programs that provide scholarships, vouchers, or tax credits for children with special needs. • These programs provide financial assistance averaging between $4,800 and $16,500. • North Carolina’s scholarship for children with disabilities joins the ranks of successful programs across the country that are using school choice as an effective way to address the needs of our exceptional students.
Scholarship Beneficiary – Case Study 1 The Smith family in Raleigh has a daughter who was recently diagnosed with autism. Like one out of every 73 children in North Carolina, she suffers from the effects of this disability. Their daughter is entering kindergarten this year. They are worried about enrolling her in public school after hearing about a number of cases where autistic children were bullied and were unable to keep up in their classes. The Mariposa School, located in the Triangle, is dedicated specifically to autistic children. After learning about the scholarship , the Smiths are excited about the possibility of enrolling their daughter in a school where her special needs will be directly addressed. This would allow them to avoid placing their daughter in a kindergarten classroom with special needs students who require vastly different treatments.
Scholarship Beneficiary – Case Study 2 The Johnsons in Asheville are examining their educational options and are finding out that they have very few. Their son’s placement in a public classroom with 23 other special needs children leaves little time for the one-on-one instructional needs that are necessary for his specialized learning requirements. He has an average IQ but has difficulty learning when there are more than a handful of people in a room. He also has a speech disability. The Johnsons decide that homeschooling is the best option for their son. They will be able to provide one-on-one instruction that is structured specifically for son’s disability but will incur additional expenses for a private speech therapist. A scholarship will help the Johnsons pay for the speech therapy and enable them to homeschool their son.
Have Questions? Need More Information? • Please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to provide more information and help answer questions. • Office of Rep. Paul Stam - Staff Contacts: • General Office Number, 919-733-2962 • Gregg Sinders, 919-715-2644, Gregg.Sinders@ncleg.net