A divided House Education Committee approved legislation (25-10) Tuesday that would offer parents with special-needs children grants up to $6,000 a year to enroll their children in private school and receive daily special education services.
Supporters say it’s about choice for the parents and the child.
Legislators critical of House Bill 269 argued the bill would only serve to drain more resources from public schools and could even be used for home schooled children.
Rep. Mickey Michaux said the money ($3000 per semester) would not be enough to fully cover the cost of tuition at a private school, leaving many low-income families out in the cold.
Rep. Paul Stam, a primary sponsor of the bill, suggested private schools would be “perfectly happy to work with parents if they know the money is coming.”
Rep. Larry D. Hall cautioned some parents might be pushed into loans they could ill afford with the hope that would give them the up-front money needed to enroll their child in a private school.
“The parents become sought after and recruited to bring their children to a school they cannot afford, then somehow financing is arranged through some other third party or service, and the parents end up being on the hook for the money that’s supposed to be reimburse,” said Rep. Hall.
The bill, which would provide nearly $3.7 million for the scholarships in the 2013-14 fiscal year, now heads to the House Finance Committee.