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The NC State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) began accepting applications on October 1 for the Special Education Scholarship Grants for Children with Disabilities program. As of last week, the NCSEAA has received 248 applications submitted by parents wishing to receive $3,000 in taxpayer funds per semester for their special needs children to attend private and home schools in the state.

“We will begin notifying parents of their award status right around November 15,” said Elizabeth McDuffie, Director of Grants, Training and Outreach for the NCSEAA. Those who are awarded the grants will receive reimbursement checks to apply toward tuition, fees and other related expenses incurred for the spring 2014 semester. The program should be able to accommodate roughly 875 students, depending on award amounts.

Private and home schools in North Carolina are largely unregulated, but they do have to comply with minimal state regulations, including providing evidence of fire and safety inspections, immunization records and standardized test results. The Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE) publishes annually a list of private and home schools that are in compliance with state law.

NCSEAA is relying on the list that DNPE posted for the academic year 2012-13, in addition to their lists of recently closed and opened schools, as their list of eligible nonpublic schools to which parents can send their children with special needs and receive disability scholarships.

NC Policy Watch previously reported that DNPE’s list of recognized private schools includes a number that employ just one teacher and a handful of students. The director of DNPE, David Mills, told NC Policy Watch that those schools were just starting out and possibly catering to accelerated students or students with disabilities.

“We are aware of those schools,” said McDuffie, after a long pause when asked whether these schools raise a red flag with NCSEAA. “They do qualify according to the statute.” Read More